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Unclassified Info: Paying extra for a brand name

July 04, 2011|By Gary Huerta

As I peruse the News Press this week, budget cuts seem to be a recurring theme all over town. Of course, I’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to notice.

I can’t stop thinking about the misguided branding effort our city was so hot to pursue about this time last year. You might remember I took several swipes at Northstar Destination Strategies, the company from Tennessee the city hired to provide us with a brand image that promised to improve our self esteem, raise awareness and increase tourism revenues. Has anyone seen this mythical brand? I haven’t — but then again, perhaps I’m deaf, dumb and blind.

With all these budget cuts and layoffs looming, I would really like the Glendale Redevelopment Agency to come clean and tell us how much money they threw at this branding project and what the return on investment has been so far.


As my eye turned back to this mysterious branding company on the other side of the Mississippi, I was curious what revelations they discovered for other towns looking to rejuvenate their brand identity. I didn’t want to be guilty of criticizing Northstar without providing a sampling of their credibility. After all, it was their expertise that got our city officials to open up the city coffers. So here is a sampling of their insightful destination marketing and tourism branding work.

Dublin, Ohio is the place where “Irish is an attitude”.

In Kirkland, Washington “Water. Colors. Everything.”

And Glendale, Arizona proudly differentiates itself as having a, “Similar latitude, different attitude.”

Excuse me? What in heck do any of these brand statements really mean? Can I expect to get in a drunken pub brawl in Dublin, Ohio? Do I need to prepare for floods of biblical proportion in Kirkland, Washington? Exactly which latitude is Glendale, Arizona talking about?

Not one of these statements, which I am sure each city paid handsomely for, makes me want to visit. And it doesn’t make me think Northstar is all that great either. Frankly, the only brand statement that makes me remotely curious is the one for Dublin, Ohio. I suppose the next time I’m in that part of the country and have an inexplicable craving for corned beef and cabbage, I’ll know where to go.

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