Roeland Park looking for help to stand out in the crowd

Roeland Park would like to come up with a snazzier new brand than this sign entering the city on Roe Avenue.
Roeland Park would like to come up with a snazzier new brand than this sign entering the city on Roe Avenue.

Roeland Park is a city in search of an identity. Literally.

The inner-ring suburb with 7,000 residents is in the midst of a rebranding effort with the help of marketing experts at Benedictine College in Atchison. When it’s over, the community hopes to have a logo and perhaps a slogan to distinguish it on the metropolitan map.

City Administrator Keith Moody said the rebranding push is an outgrowth of the recently completed strategic planning process in which Benedictine students and professors interviewed residents about their community.

“During the process of Benedictine interviewing folks, they identified a lack of a strong identity for the community,” Moody said. “There’s certainly a great deal of citizen satisfaction, that’s wonderful, but articulating what makes Roeland Park special is difficult.”

Moody said Benedictine suggested the idea of having a competition to solicit ideas for a logo and perhaps a slogan for the city. It’s open to local residents and the deadline for responding is Nov. 18.

To help stir the creative juices, the Benedictine marketing department prepared a brief on Roeland Park. It got into what its residents like about their home and how it compares with other neighboring communities.

“If implemented correctly, this will assist in efforts to attract new residents and businesses, and will strengthen the current townspeople’s sense of pride in their city,” the rebranding creative brief stated.

Among the attributes identified for Roeland Park were its proximity to Kansas City which makes it attractive to people who want to buy a house and raise a family, and still enjoy city life; the affordability and variety of its housing, and its friendly and safe environment.

And here’s how the Benedictine marketing program sized up the competition:

  • Westwood. Right next door, commonly viewed as a more expensive, upscale neighbor to Roeland Park. Liked for its proximity to the Country Club Plaza.
  • Mission. A direct competitor due to the fact it shares a lot of Roeland Park’s attributes including affordability and proximity to the city.
  • Overland Park. More expensive and further from the city, but very well-known and recognized for its safety and well regarded schools. Bigger homes and larger yards too.
  • Prairie Village. Very popular for young couples and younger people; nice restaurants and shopping, and known for its Jazz Festival and House Crawl “that have really helped bring in a younger crowd.”
  • Leawood. Known as one of the top suburbs with many parks and good schools. But very expensive and located six miles south of Roeland Park.
  • Lenexa. Longer commutes, bigger homes and yards, and much farther from the city than Roeland Park.

Some other fun nuggets found in the rebranding brief include Roeland Park being known for its progressive social values.

“Many take pride in, and point to the contrast of the perceived inclusiveness of Roeland Park to the rest of Johnson County and the state of Kansas,” the authors found.

And as far as being the “City of Trees,” while nature is important to residents, it’s not considered a central identity of Roeland Park.

Moody said if a suitable brand and logo is identified, the city wants to use it in identifying Roeland Park at its primary entrance points on Roe Avenue, and labeling equipment and street signs. It also would be part of a new city website that’s expected to be launched next year.