“Off-Center Character,” Or, Rebranding Often Misses the Point

Here is a Grist article that points out how cities often miss the point during rebranding efforts. This topic has come up a few times on this blog, but because it’s an ongoing issue in the city I think it deserves a critical discussion. The article begins by quoting chef Anthony Bourdain:

“I think that troubled cities often tragically misinterpret what’s coolest about themselves. They scramble for cure-alls, something that will ‘attract business,’ always one convention center, one pedestrian mall or restaurant district away from revival. They miss their biggest, best, and probably most marketable asset: their unique and slightly off-center character….”

The article is specifically talking about Cleveland — a city that has come up before on this blog — and how useful it is to highlight the things that actually make it unique, rather than the safe features that most other cities also have. Referring to city leaders and branding professionals, the article argues that,

“‘Cool’ to these folks means a rock hall exhibit or an aquarium. It means largely showing off what you have that other cities have instead of differentiating yourself from the pack.”

Provo is very different from Cleveland (thankfully) but I’m still not seeing much effort devoted to branding the things that actually make Provo unique. The ideas in that link (and in the comments) certainly aren’t comprehensive, but Provo really needs to embrace its “off-center character.” It needs to market the things that other cities in the area too afraid to market, or even to afraid to have in their communities. Provo needs to find its quirk and even its blemishes and be proud of those things.



Filed under Development

7 responses to ““Off-Center Character,” Or, Rebranding Often Misses the Point

  1. Lisa Witham

    I totally agree!

  2. i couldn’t agree with you more. just found your blog, and love it. it seems we are thinking in tandem–here’s a post from my three part (so far) series on provo. i’d love to link your blog on mine.


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