Promises Promises

Branding a place/city is a rat's nest of difficulties. Emotions, constituents, business leaders, citizens, politicians, and everyone in between has something at stake. What else is new? Finding something that satisfies all these interests, or at the very least doesn't get any of them bent out of shape is a challenge. Often one's parochial interests can cut off the nose of a branding opportunity to spite their face.

In the comments section of the previous post Ziggy brings up some of these issues. What do you do if Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) isn't on board with the branding? What do you do if influential folks in the community aren't in support? Good question. The fear of this happening usually results in something that's so all encompassing as to be useless. People need to be made to realize that just because a branding effort doesn't directly mention their interest, doesn't mean it's not in their interest.

As a for instance, if Louisville were to go with "Feed Your Soul" (which I simply plopped out of my head in 5 minutes so let's not tie me to that one) it obviously doesn't address things like growth or technology or other things GLI might desire in a branding effort, however shooting it down would show they were missing the boat on an opportunity. People in the arts community would misunderstand the situation to simply reject it out of hand.

If the city focuses it's branding efforts on something like hospitality (which I mention is what makes Louisville unique in the previous post), there are many things that stem from that focus. How do you attract businesses to Louisville beyond tax breaks? You use the hospitality of Louisville to wine, dine and close the deal. You make them see that this is a place where they can move the families of their employees. How do you get young, educated people interested in coming to or staying in Louisville? First you close the deals with businesses to open up opportunity. Then you show them the entertainment districts available to them. How do you get residents of Louisville to commune and be excited about all of the things available to them (arts, culture, parks, entertainment...)? You start thinking about Louisville in terms of neighborhoods and entertainment districts each having a unique offering. Then you start creating public transportation that can easily get people from one place to the other. You start redoubling efforts to help communities in areas of the city that have been forgotten to develop similar districts (perhaps something culturally relevant to them... imagine small areas of ethnic specialty shops, or new gathering places in the west end).

All of this feeds into making Louisville a more friendly city for tourists. No renting cars, easy to get around. Easy to enjoy the incredible food, and music and shopping. And as was stated, all of those things were built up around an event that draws people from around the world in the Kentucky Derby.

Pretty lofty goals, I know. But that's what a focused branding effort gives you. You make a promise and in the effort to deliver on that promise good things arise. As the city moves into a new era with a new Mayor, I can only hope that they take the branding of the city as something very serious and don't put it on the back burner. It's worth the investment. And perhaps, maybe it's a question that the current crop of candidates should be asked. Just what is brand Louisville? Their answer may show who they truly are.