Rebranding and Relaunching a Historic Community

Project Details

Client: Dundalk Renaissance Corporation

Goals: Positively influence perceptions of Dundalk and attract new residents to rent, purchase a home, or invest in the community.

Results: Increased interest and participation across all metrics—website visits, social media engagement, and event attendance. Today, Dundalk is quickly growing as a residential destination community with an increasingly positive perception.

The Challenge
Dundalk is a classic suburban Baltimore community of 26 neighborhoods, much of it surrounded by water and public greenspace, with many with waterfront properties.

The community had long been the focus of negative attention in the region, despite its scenic and historic charm. Despite its convenient location and proximity to downtown Baltimore, Dundalk was often passed over for other suburbs when young families moved out of the city.

Once a vital hub of economic activity for Maryland as the home of a Bethlehem Steel foundry and a GM automobile manufacturing plant, the community has struggled economically and socially in recent decades. Tens of thousands of people still make Dundalk their home and take great pride in living there.

The Process
Working with the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation (DRC), we undertook the considerable task of re-branding the community. Building off an existing economic analysis and perceptions survey, our first order of business was to convene a branding committee of local stakeholders to begin understanding Dundalk’s rich history and its unique assets. Our focus was to develop an approach that appealed to younger prospective residents actively looking to buy a home in today’s real estate market.

The Solutions
Using market research, focus groups, and community surveys, we identified key assets in the community that became the cornerstone of a new brand and campaign to positively influence perceptions. We created the new brand identity and tag line: “Dundalk. Live the Unexpected.” as we kept hearing feedback that people were surprised to find so many wonderfully unexpected things about the community. The reality of living in Dundalk did not fit the perceptions of outsiders. From there, we staged a series of photoshoots and built a dynamic new website to showcase the variety of neighborhoods in the community and various programs for new home buyers in an effort to attract new residents at UnexpectedDundalk.com.

We wrote a comprehensive marketing plan and developed and produced the inaugural Dundalk Housing Fair and Neighborhoods Tours, while the DRC staff implemented the larger plan.

The Outcomes
Initial success was measured by the strong attendance of the brand launch event that attracted over 125 guests and dignitaries, and the overwhelming positive media coverage that was generated as a result. Every significant local media outlet featured at least one positive story on Dundalk in the first 6 months—a ground-breaking accomplishment for this community. The housing fair was very well attended and supported by sponsors and exhibitors, and has continued as the largest event of its type in Baltimore County.