Can you keep a secret?

Ad4! knows branding. I frequently speak to groups about branding and how to use brand culture to drive business improvement. Last March, I spoke at the Industry Week Roundtable in the Rockies event in Vail, Colorado. The event is designed to support economic developers in their never-ending quest to position their community in a positive light. I used the recent Remington plant opening in Huntsville to talk about how the Huntsville area economic development process works and some of the key factors in our success. One of those factors is being able to keep a secret.

In the Remington deal, 15 different economic development organizations were involved. Groups from Madison County (like the Port Auithority, City of Huntsville, Madison County Commission, and City of Madison) to several groups in Athens and Decatur. Through the entire process, keeping the project a secret was a key factor in getting the plant. I’ve lost count now of how many individuals were involved with all the different groups, but the count was significant.

Just this week, WHNT TV did a story on how keeping the project a secret was important in getting another new business, Polaris, to locate a plant in the area. See the story and watch the video HERE.

So what does this have to do with branding? Everything!

What sets your community apart from others competing for the same plant? What sets your business apart from others trying to get the same contract? In this case, keeping a secret is part of the requirements for a community to make it to the next round. In site selection, it’s not so much about getting selected as not getting de-selected. Since no community or city is 100% compatible with a set of requirements, you want to be the last one standing after other communities have been marked off the list. Being able to keep all the players in the various groups quiet about the process is extremely difficult. People love to tell secrets. But around here, it’s part of their brand culture. We can keep a project quiet. In fact, there are typically one to several dozen projects in play at any given time. Secrecy is almost always important through some part of the selection process.

The greater Huntsville area has a lot of positives. We get more than our share of new businesses. One of the most important arrows in our USP* quiver is the ability to keep a secret. You might say, it’s our Red Pencil!


Note: USP is Unique Selling Proposition. It’s what sets you apart from your competition.

Originally published on: Apr 14, 2015

Meet the Author

As an entrepreneur and coach, I have helped hundreds of others become successful entrepreneurs themselves. I understand how to hone a business model, launch a business and keep it growing, by applying real world knowledge with the skill that only comes from years of experience.

I’ve been fortunate to have lived in different parts of the country and had many different ...

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