Cities are making a name for themselves
When someone mentions The Big Apple, does New York City immediately come to mind? Witness the power of a successful brand. Recognizing that power, several cities are launching branding campaigns to put themselves on the map or makeover their images. In either case, branding can be crucial for cities competing for residents, tourists and investments.
Dallas, for instance, is sprucing up its image with a full-force, yet cost-effective, campaign. “When people thought of Dallas, three things came to mind: JR Ewing, women with big hair and TexMex margaritas,” says Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors’ Bureau.
In 2003, Jones hired locally based The Richard’s Group to coin a slogan that would encompass both old and new aspects of the city. That slogan — Live Large. Think Big. — now is being applied to sports, the arts, business and lifestyles. In the last category, the city is developing and marketing a greenbelt area, which over the next 10 years will include two lakes, hiking and biking trails, and a large urban forest.
Jones says the city has gone out of its way to spend responsibly. “I was hired two years ago, and I was shocked to find out there was no money being spent to market Dallas,” he says. The city went from spending nothing on self-promotion to spending $500,000. Jones solicited media outlets and billboard companies to publicize the new slogan via public service announcements (PSAs). So far, he says the city has received about $300,000 worth of free PSAs. Jones’ team also has a video that is shown on all American Airlines flights into Dallas.
In Indianapolis, where the marketing campaign encompasses a 60-mile region, a consistent theme is key, says Tom King, head of the Indianapolis Region Branding Initiative. The initiative brings together 14 groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Arts Council and the Indiana Sports Corp. to roll out a new slogan and logo.
“We want to have a unified brand or image of the city … we also want to achieve efficiency of costs,” King says. “[That] will come by not having 20 different logos, designs, etc.; if you’ve got one message that’s coming out of an area, that helps.”
King says the marketing efforts are targeted specifically at the 25-to-40 age group. “We want to retain [the people] we have, we want people to come here and have conventions, we want people to stay here when they graduate from college,” he says.
While the slogan and logo have not been released yet, King hopes to have some elements of the campaign rollout under way this spring, just in time for the city to host the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball tournament.
Further south, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is using a branding campaign as part of her economic development plan, according to Helen Tarleton, a Brand Atlanta volunteer. In October, Atlanta launched a $4.5 million branding/marketing campaign that focuses on three themes: opportunity, optimism and openness. The slogan, “Every Day is an Opening Day,” was designed to draw the themes together into one easily remembered package. The Brand Atlanta campaign features television ads, a logo, a song and marketing collateral, such as pocket-sized city maps.
As many as 60 stakeholder groups are supporting the branding initiative. “They are starting to take the campaign and the themes and carry it forward in their own materials,” Tarleton says.
— Jennifer Carlile is an Atlanta-based freelance writer.