Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Great Place, Great People, Great Promise... blah, blah, blah

I was struck recently by the announcement of the City of Gastonia about the product of a seven-month research and creative development process to brand the city to attract new business, residents, tourists and shoppers. Here's what they came up with:
Gastonia: Great Place, Great People, Great Promise
What, do you reckon, took them seven months?

When they launched their branding initiative back in the summer, they established their objective: "The City of Gastonia wants to develop a strong message that accurately defines today’s Gastonia." The mayor observed, “Branding helps cities re-invent their identities, promote their greatest assets and be more identifiable to economic potentials.”

Rather than rigorously assessing how their targets of new business, residents, tourists and shoppers see Gastonia and tapping into what they find distinctive about the city, community leaders ended up with a statement that says more about how they would like to think about themselves. Few people are going to read their messaging and be rushing to Gastonia any time soon.

I'm reminded of the marketing maxim that, "It's not what you say about yourself, but what your customers say about you, that counts."

The Austin, TX Chamber of Commerce spent big bucks and came up with the tag line which is how they wanted to see themselves, "The Human Capitol." Of course, most people in and out of Austin know that city as "The Live Music Capital of the World." Live music attracts a lot more people to Austin than "Human Capitol" ever will.

After doing a little research, the city "found that Austin had more live music venues per capita than such music hotbeds as Nashville, Memphis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas or New York City." So ultimately the city adopted the tagline "The Live Music Capital of the World" because it is a distinctive claim that Austin can make and reflects the creative culture that community leaders want to promote that is much deeper than just music.

Great Place, Great People, Great Promise is chamber of commerce sloganeering. I'm not trying to beat up in Gastonia. We're all guilty of sloganeering.

What's the City of Gastonia's greatest asset that would entice you to visit, or even move and work there? That's the vision Gastonia needs to capture. In all our communities, that's the vision we need to capture.


Anonymous said...

Hey John:

For Gastonia, how about:

"Easy access to the interstate" or
"Close to stuff that matters"

Seems like Gastonia can position itself as a transit hub of the Southeast, and also point out its proximity to the mountains and recreation.

Anonymous said...

Actually the "Live Music Capital of the World" is the tagline used by the convention and vistor's bureau in Austin, and the The Human Capital is used by the Chamber because of the high percentage of educated and skilled labor in Austin, universities and entrepreneurs. -Nan Matthews, VP Public Relations, Austin Chamber