On the Ethos of City Branding: Or, Trying versus Being

As Cleveland takes on yet another effort in "rebranding", Richey Piiparinen looks at past schemes and finds it's better to keep it real.

To Piiparinen, there are two ways to brand a city, by marketing it aspirationally or realistically. Or, to put it another way, "the success of any city brand campaign is dependent on how you go about it, that is: are you trying to be a thing or are you being it? The distinction is important, as nobody likes a fake, especially when the "brand" of the Rust Belt is about being as real as possible."

With this distinction in mind, Piiparinen goes about providing some examples of past Cleveland branding campaigns with illustrative examples for each. Take the, apparently messy, "Cleveland's A Plum" aspirational campaign. Or the much better regarded "Cleveland You've Got to Be Tough!" saying.

Although Piiparinen concludes, "that trying method, it's been tried-over and over and over. And it has never succeeded in changing how people look at us-let alone how Cleveland looks at itself," he's pessimistic that "corporate-backed, tax payer-funded branding efforts would embrace more of the underground being approach."

Full Story: An Illustrated History of Cleveland’s Varied Attempts at “Rebranding”


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