Cedar Rapids chamber rebranding under way

by Tim Kenyon

LINN COUNTY – An occasional makeover helps to refresh an organization’s marketing and attract new interest.   

That’s the hope of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s goal to meet membership desires and future expectations reflecting the business and community impact in a new logo unveiled last week to commence a rebranding campaign.

A hand holding the “m” in the word “Chamber” with a flame above it is featured in the new logo with the text underneath stating: “Champion for a Greater Cedar Rapids.”

A 10-member task force featuring 150 years of combined marketing experience guided the project, the first major chamber logo makeover in more than a decade.

“It’s long overdue,” chamber board Chairman Brad Hart said.

Project organizer Catie Kriewald conferred with several other chambers on best practices to use in rebranding.

They included Bowling Green, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn., both of which were honored in summer 2009 at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives annual awards, Ms. Kriewald said.

A torch statue is being relayed among chamber members daily as part of the campaign to create awareness of the brand change.

President and CEO Shannon Meyer said the organization wanted a bold look that can last and symbolize a continued evolving approach to help members and supporting the community.

The rebranding legwork included input from board members, the task force, staff and separate surveys of communication professionals and area executives.

The Henry Russell Bruce marketing firm provided assistance during the development process.

Personnel change

Kari Stillman took over the marketing and communications vice president position March 8.

She moved over from the chamber’s economic development arm Priority One, where she was project development and marketing vice president.

She replaced Ms. Kriewald, who will work on a contractor basis on strategic projects, Ms. Meyer said.

“I’ll be ready to jump in with both feet,” Ms. Stillman said last week. “I hope that we can further collaborate as our organizations work together, as having been in that mix at Priority One will be beneficial to both in the future.”

Ms. Meyer expected a smooth adjustment.

It will be a seamless transition,” she said. “There will be a continual loop for both organizations because of Kari’s background.”

Priority One began to search for Ms. Stillman’s replacement last week.