Branding a city (like Chicago)

How do you brand such a big city like Chicago? Smart City radio interviews Paul O’Connor of World Business Chicago to get the answer, and I must say his answer is rather ‘CoolTownish’.

His focus is on branding the quality of life and global diversity of Chicago. In his words, “The big change has been that by working on the quality of life of the city, making it safe and clean and attractive, a place where gen x and gen y want to be, then what has happened is the city has became a magnet for the cutting edge talent that you really need to drive competitive companies, and so now for the first time what we’re starting to see is the movement of companies that have fled the cities, maybe in the 70s, coming back downtown to access that talent pool.”

In targeting businesses to move or grow in Chicago, he focuses on its abundant business resources (ie depth of global class workforce) and its quality of life to retain that workforce top to bottom, as a place where the top talent in the world can find their own grocery stores, places of worshop and media, not to mention neighborhoods where they speak the same language.

His advice for other cities seeking to compete in the global economy? Learn geography and learn about what’s going on in the world. That seems to be the line of thinking of the most successful entrepreneurs in cities as well as small towns. Also, “Don’t use a tagline, use your own city name as the tagline.”

Urban columnist Otis White, also on the program, provides excellent advice on how to brand your city – build an impact people-oriented destination, like Baltimore’s entertainment-rich Inner Harbor and Chicago’s brand new art-oriented Millennium Park (pictured.)

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