More Municipal Brand Talk!

We”re stuck on a topic. But, it’s a good one…the “rebranding” of municipalities and states. Tara a/k/a “miss rogue” had a great comment about cities’ brand strategy…

“…Perhaps re-branding a city wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it involved the actual inhabitants and went beyond a silly logo and an advertising campaign. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…”

That’s right on the mark. Too many cities (and companies) focus on the logos and ads rather than the actual brand makers. I touched on that lightly in the Kentucky brand article I linked to in the previous posts.

The problem is that when cities do try to reach out and change perceptions they are ridiculed by the media and masses for “wasting taxpayers’ money” just as much or more than they are for creating the logos and ads. Often, the logo gets better press that the effort.

A good example is when former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani launched his quality of life campaign for New York in the mid-90s. It helped the New York brand, but was widely panned in the press.

A current example is the US Government’s PR effort to change the perceptions of America…particularly in the Arab world. A lot of the negative hype over that move that is partisan and political, but obviously the US needs a PR boost.

And my favorite (fictional) example from Seinfeld…Dinkins loses the race to Giuliani because of Elaine’s suggestion to Lloyd Braun that everyone in the City wear nametags to make New York a nicer place.

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Brand it

One of the local Chambers of Commerce is having a press conference this week to “unveil” their new brand for economic development efforts.

That’s interesting.

I’m having a press conference next week to unveil my new personality and what people think about me. Starting next week, I would like to be referred to as Foster.

The two are the same concept. People get the terms “brand” and “logo” confused. A lot.

The personality analogy is a little incomplete, but gets the idea across. Your brand is what people expect from you. You influence it by the way you act and talk…the ideas you share. You define the parameters of what people expect from you. But in the end, people will establish their own perception of you. In a corporate sense, this is called your “BRAND”.

A logo is akin to the human face. When people I know see me, they recognize me by my physical characteristics. “Hey, it’s Chris. (or next week…”Hey, it’s Foster”) From that recognition, their mind pulls up what they think about me (my personality/brand characteristics)

If I had a facelift or cosmetic surgery (I changed my logo), it would not greatly affect what people thought of me.

And yet, companies do this all the time. A new logo will not change “your brand”. Changing what you do changes your brand…slowly. You’re defining your brand if you have a brand strategy or not. People are making judgements on the brand with every interaction they have with your business.

I’m sure the inspiration for this “brand” move from the local Chamber came from the “branding of Kentucky” movement. Kentucky and Oregon are the only two states that have brand strategies (all 50 actually have brands, by the way). I wrote an article for one of the state’s newspapers about Kentucky’s misplaced branding efforts back in January. I have a copy of that article on the blog. You can read it here.

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Like Lemmings Off a Cliff

I had posted earlier about the odd feeling of the marketing offer to be treated like a GM employee during the midst of huge GM employee layoffs. Apparently, this didn’t phase too many people as the “GM Employee Discount for Everyone” promo has apparently been a huge success.

Now Ford and Chrysler are jumping on the employee discount bandwagon as well. Automotive marketer Peter M. DeLorenzo makes some good points why this is a bad idea in this article.

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North!

While preparing a presentation a few days ago, I came across a quote that was a perfect fit for a book I recently read. Seth Godin’s “All Marketers are Liars” deals with marketers telling stories that consumers want to believe. I passed the quote onto Seth and he was nice enough to mention the Shotgun Marketing BLOG on his blog….

I don’t know why a Arctic explorer was tuned into marketing in the 60s, but he makes a good point…

“What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public.” – Vilhjalmur Stefansson, “Discovery”, 1964

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Dancing Machine

I blogged a few months ago about the instant infatuation and total media coverage that could come up about any particular thing and then blow away like it was never there. This idea as it deals with marketing has popped up again with a summer “hit”. I’m fascinated with the adoption curve for ABCs Dancing with the Stars. It feels like I’m watching something from the late 70s/early 80s…(Circus of the Stars, anyone?)

Barring Kelly’s wardrobe malfunctions, what is the public seeing in this? If you had announced early this year that America would become obsessed with ballroom dancing, everyone would have laughed at you….and everyone would have been wrong.

What other trends could you introduce with your business that people will laugh at now…but could become very successful down the road?

And because I can’t resist (and wanted John O’Hurley to win)…

The harsh beam from the dance spotlight cut like the sun in the Gobi Desert. Villagers clamored around for a taste of the refined movement of the dance. It was the perfect moment for my Nepalese Dance shirt…sizes small, medium, and large…$187 – J. Peterman catalog

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