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Place Branding

Evaluating City Mottos, Taglines And Slogans

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Place Branding Strategy

For years, I have lamented the lack of marketing savvy used in developing city and town mottos, taglines and slogans. A very small portion of these are effective in highlighting their municipalities’ unique value propositions.

Most sound good but say nothing. Some actually make you want to stay away. Others are just downright inane. Here are a sampling of municipality mottos, taglines and slogans – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Effective (they allude to a unique quality or benefit):

  • Las Vegas: “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”
  • New York, N.Y.: “The City That Never Sleeps”
  • Hershey, Pa.: “The Sweetest Place on Earth”
  • Austin, Texas: “Keep Austin Weird”
  • Eagle Pass, Texas: “Where Yee-Hah! meets Ole!”
  • Cleveland, OH: “Cleveland Rocks!”
  • Santa Fe, NM: “The City Different”
  • Jim Thorpe, PA: “The Switzerland of America”
  • Coachella, CA: “City of eternal sunshine”
  • Nashville, TN: “The Music City”
  • Belleview, WA: “City in a Park”
  • Rockland, ME: “Lobster Capital of the World”

Believable?

  • Freeland, PA: “The most happening place on Earth”
  • Madisonville, KY: “The best town on Earth”
  • Glendive, MT: “Where the best begins”

What does this mean (inane or vacuous)?

  • “Dunedin (NZ), it’s all right here”
  • Rochester, NY: “I’d Rather Be in Rochester – It’s Got It”
  • Cambridge, OH: “Together for a Better Tomorrow”
  • Ashburton, NZ: “Whatever it Takes”
  • Rockville, MD: “Get into it”
  • Richmond, MI: “With Time for You”
  • Hico, TX: “Where everybody is somebody”
  • Eustis, FL: “The city of bright tomorrows”
  • Marshall, MN: “A Better Way to Live!”
  • Auburn, WA: “More than you imagined”

So what?

  • Beaman, IA: “You’re not dreamin’, you’re in Beaman”

Boring:

  • “Visit Jakarta” (Indonesia)
  • “Your Partner, Gwangju” (South Korea)
  • “It’s Daejeon” (South Korea)
  • “Aha! Suncheon” (South Korea)

Does this make me want to live or visit there?

  • Forestville, CA: “Poison Oak Capital of the World”
  • Washta, IA: “The coldest spot in Iowa”
  • Allentown, PA: “Truck Capital of the World”
  • Baxter Springs, KS: “First Cowtown In Kansas”
  • Beaver, OK: “Cow Chip Capital of the World”
  • Cheshire, CT: “Bedding Plant Capital of Connecticut”

Maybe (for the right target audience):

  • Gilroy, CA: “Garlic capital of the world”
  • Bertram, TX: “Home of the Oatmeal Festival”
  • Breaux Bridge, LA: “Crayfish Capital of the World”
  • Knik, AK: “Dog-Mushing Center of the World”

In fairness, some of these are official taglines, some are past advertising campaign slogans and some are phrases that have come into common usage. In any event, I hope this sampling of municipality mottos, taglines and slogans demonstrates that municipality branding can be improved significantly. You can find more on creating an effective tagline here and place branding here.

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2 Comments

Ed Roach
Twitter: edroachbranding
on September 12th, 2014 said

Have you noticed many of the mediocre and bad ones have ‘it’ in them. My guess is they fail to define ‘it’. Believing (wrongly) that because NIke uses ‘it’ it’s the way to go. They don’t appreciate the long history of Nike’s brand that eventually allowed them to go solo with “Just do it.”

Because of politics most place brands play it safe or develop slogans by committee. The great ones go out on a limb and dare to be bold.

Bill Baker
Twitter: citybrander
on September 15th, 2014 said

Good list and interesting categories. Unfortunately way too many places think that their logo and tagline is their brand. Then they can’t get past committee group think or the one that sounds good to them – as locals. Rarely do they consider how it will play in a competitive context or what’s in it for prospective customers outside the area. Then with each new troop of elected officials comes yet another round of meaningless taglines. And so the cycle continues. Then there are those who do get professional assistance and develop a genuine brand kit to position their location and present it in a meaningful way.

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