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Brad VanAuken Brand Licensing

Licensing The Beverly Hills Brand

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Mayor Jimmy Delshad (pictured above) announced this month that The City of Beverly Hills, California is launching its own line of perfumes as a first step in turning its trademarked shield logo into a brand. Click here for more details.

I think it is an interesting concept for a city to reinforce is most powerful positive associations by launching related products under its name and logo. If done properly, it could help reinforce what the city stands for and what makes it different. While this may not work for the majority of municipalities, I could see it working in a number of instances:

  • Woodstock (NY) – tie-die clothing
  • Lake Placid (NY) – winter sportswear or ski equipment
  • Las Vegas (NV) – traveling shows
  • New Orleans (LA) – Cajun foods
  • Cambridge (MA) – study guides (similar to CliffsNotes) or college test preparation services
  • Nashville (TN) – country music record label (some already exist)
  • Kansas City (MO) – barbeque sauce (some already exist)
  • Fargo (ND) – ice cream bars
  • Scottsdale (AZ) – golf equipment
  • Orlando (FL) – national theme park chain
  • San Jose (CA) – national computer consulting franchise
  • Aspen (CO) – upscale ski clothing
  • Sedona (AZ) – New Age products

The trick would be to find products that reinforce the intended positive associations. For instance, while Fargo could license its name to ice cream bars, maybe it wants to leave that honor to International Falls, MN or some other extreme northern municipality. This could be a whole new line of branding – creating municipality brands under which nationally (or globally) distributed products and services are offered.

Can you think of any other municipality/product combinations that are ripe for brand licensing?

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3 Comments

Brad VanAuken on October 19th, 2010 said

I forgot to mention one other thing — brand licensing would be a terrific way for municipalities to close potential budget gaps as well.

Kevin McC. on October 21st, 2010 said

Hmm. Not sure about that whole concept, Brad. I certainly don’t know what it is like to live in Beverly Hills (aside from stories from my father in law, who grew up not far from there in the ’40s, but that was a different time and a different world).

Call me old school, but it seems a city like that would do better focusing on providing municipal services par excellence, in as unobtrusive a way as possible, while treating it’s citizens with unsurpassed customer service, much like you would expect a luxury brand to treat its customers. In other words, by far transcending the bureaucratic drone mentality you often get from municipalities. Then again, perhaps they do that already.

I would just question how “healthy” it is for a municipality to compete with legitimate businesses. Just my two cents. Thanks for always providing good food for thought though and continuing to challenge notions about what a brand is or should be.

Kevin

Brad VanAuken on October 21st, 2010 said

Kevin,

Having done significant research for municipality branding projects, I can say that the most important things to residents, for instance, are good job opportunities, low crime, affordable housing, good medical care, attractive neighborhoods, etc. I agree. Municipalities would do better to focus on these things. Having said that, I think licensing products under a municipality brand if the municipality is distinctive enough is an interesting concept worth thinking about. However, it could easily become a distraction from the primary duties of municipal leadership.

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