City branding

Katherine Stone is underwhelmed by Atlanta’s new tagline (Atlanta: Every day is opening day). Christina Maynard at Ricksticks feels the same about the new logos for Toronto and Atlanta.

I’m yawning too.

My two (maybe five) cents: when people talk about advertising and branding they often focus on a few examples of stuff that seems to work. Katherine likes Las Vegas’ “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, which has a lot more impact than the Atlanta offering. Most of us can reel off a few TV ads we really love. But let’s not forget that most of what we see is achingly mediocre.

So if I were advising a city, I’d ask: what makes us think we’re so talented that we’re going to be the one in ten thousand cities that comes up with a snappy tagline or clever logo that actually achieves something? And who exactly are we to think we have the ability to summarise the complex virtues of where we live in a few short words?

I can’t help thinking this is another manifestation of the tyranny of the explicit: if we don’t make explicit, however trivially and boringly, some USP for a location, we’re somehow missing a trick. God forbid that we let the people who live here, and those who visit, tell the story in a million more modest, less consistent but much more credible ways? Ah, but that would put a few branding experts out of a job I guess.

3 thoughts on “City branding

  1. Earl Mardle

    And keep reminding them that they may own the trademark, but the brand belongs to their customers.

    The longhorn NEVER brands itself, and wouldn’t even if it had opposable thumbs.


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