Branding task force using ‘alive’ to help create slogan

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The Mayor’s Branding Task Force describes Colorado Springs as vibrant, exceptional and rugged.

It’s a town, they said, that is “alive.”

These words the task force has chosen to describe the city’s healthy, free-spirited lifestyle and the outdoorsy community. The character descriptions are part of building blocks that are expected to lead to the city’s much-anticipated slogan.

A key word, or the brand essence, in describing Colorado Springs is “alive.”

The “brand essence,” will be the backbone of the branding strategy, said Doug Price, president and CEO of Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. Price also heads up the Mayor’s Branding Task Force.

“In Colorado Springs, living means doing,” he said. “We are not spectators. We are doers.”

In May, the CVB, as part of the Colorado Springs Mayor’s Branding Task Force, hired Stone Mantel brand and strategy firm with the express mission of formulating a branding platform. The goal of a city or regional brand is to position the city as a front-running community for economic rebound, the taskforce said when it announced the contract with Stone Mantel, a Colorado Springs-based firm.

“One thing about branding that is important is the need to go through a scientific process,” said David White, Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. executive vice president, marketing. “You can’t wake up one day and have a nick name.”

There is strategy behind the phrases “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” “Cleveland Rocks” and “The Sweetest Place on Earth.” The brand must encompass more than tourism, sporting events and group meetings. It needs to work for the entire community — residents, visitors and businesses. The EDC needs to be able to use the brand to attract companies to move to the region, for instance, and the chamber needs to be able to use it to promote business.

As the Colorado Springs Mayor’s Branding Task Force heads toward the creation of a slogan it has taken into account the views of nearly 200 people in Colorado Springs. People were stopped and questioned on the street, visitors were stopped at the Colorado Springs Airport and historians were interviewed in an effort to find Colorado Springs essence, Price said.

All of the details collected about why people live, visit or work in Colorado Springs leads to Colorado Springs’ story: it is where people are drawn to nature, inspired to achieve, find balance between work and play and find the city to be a good place to start anew, Price said.

Stone Mantel is expected to present the task force with about six possible slogans by mid-September. An Oklahoma City-based research firm, WPA Opinion Research, will test the slogans before the task force settles on one.

The EDC expects to incorporate the new slogan in its marketing campaign, newsletters, and website. It will especially be used in all correspondence with California and Illinois companies — two states where Colorado is recruiting heavily, White said.

“Californians think Colorado Springs is buried in snow — that has been one objection about relocating — they don’t realize how nice the climate is,” White said.

No matter what the city slogan, it will just be the beginning of building a city brand, said Bill Popp, president and CEO of Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. His city went through a similar branding process five years ago, headed by Stone Mantel. The city’s key word was “abundance” and the slogan is “Big Wild Life.”

“We’ve seen (the slogan) become part of the vernacular in our community,” Popp said. “The community has embraced the brand.”

But, it’s not the silver bullet, he said. It is just a tool. This year, the Anchorage EDC set measurable business goals and strategies through a strategic vision process. It has taken several years to get from slogan to measurable plan, Popp said. The slogan was the jumping off point.

“Now we lay out the definitive aspects of it — the short, mid and long-term goals and strategies,” Popp said. “The brand set the mindset for this.”

The Colorado Springs Mayor’s Branding Task Force hopes to complete the branding process this year so that the city, region and individual organizations can incorporate the branding into the 2012 advertising marketing and public relation efforts.

“We know that when you pull the curtain back, like on a piece of art, the critics will be there,” Price said. “You have to realize this is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Give us your ideas

Based on the brand character key words, “vibrant, rugged and exceptional” and the brand essence key word, “alive,” what would your Colorado Springs slogan be?

Leave a comment below.