By: Catrina Leone
Positively Cleveland, the convention and visitors bureau for Greater Cleveland, launched a new brand to attract visitors to Cleveland at an annual meeting this past Wednesday. The goal is to boost tourism to Northeast Ohio and the premise behind Cleveland’s new destination brand is simple: Cleveland doesn’t follow anyone’s rules, it makes its own. The brand mostly focuses on the city’s world-class art, culture and rock and roll in a way that is fun, irreverent and always unmistakable.
David Gilbert, President and CEO of Positively Cleveland stated, ” We have created a new destination brand because it’s time to change the narrative about Cleveland at home and outside the city. Right now, Cleveland is enjoying a renaissance along with the benefits of billions of dollars in new development and improvements. Now is the time to drive more travel and tourism to Cleveland.”
The new destination brand centers on the uniqueness of the city and its eclectic mix of people. The brand is designed to make Cleveland more attractive to visitors-particularly Millennials and Generation Xers. The imagery involved in the new destination brand is what many describe as “sophisticated grit.” The images that will be used will appear to have an Instagram-like feel that is quite raw, but always authentic.
The Brand Process 1: Identifying The Right Partners
– Positively Cleveland selected MMGY Global, the largest firm in the world specializing in travel marketing, as an advisor to provide an unbiased outsider’s view of how Cleveland is perceived within the marketplace. They are also closely working with local firm thunder::tech on the local movement, #ThisisCLE, which ties directly to the branding initiatives.
The Brand Process 2: Strategic Brand Research
Positively Cleveland conducted four perception studies surveying residents, potential visitors and meeting planners in order to understand Cleveland as a destination product. The outcome showcased that there was a significant communication gap between the perception and reality of Cleveland as a destination. Knowing the input of locals was absolutely necessary to the success of the brand. MMGY Global held objective and unbiased interviews with nearly 100 Clevelanders. This included stakeholders, restaurant owners, servers, hotel workers, bartenders, restaurant customers, music advocates, healthcare leaders and many more.
The Brand Process 3: Brand Identity Development And Testing
– Because of the challenges Cleveland has experienced, the brand is designed to show visitors that the city is more creative, fun and an amazing place to visit. In an effort to test the new brand, Positively Cleveland conducted focus groups with Millenials and Generation Xers in Detroit and Columbus. During those focus groups, the facilitator started the conversation by asking the groups their thoughts on Cleveland and if they would consider visiting. “The results were outstanding. There was a significantly positive shift in the responses from the focus groups after seeing the brand essence video. It demonstrated to us that we are moving in the right direction,” Gilbert commented.
The Brand Process 4: Execution And Next Steps
– The brand will be launched with two campaigns; one for leisure visitors and one for meeting planners. The leisure campaign, “And for that, you’re welcome.” will include online advertising, print advertising, marketing collateral, a new website (www.ThisisCleveland.com) and out-of-home advertising. A meetings and conventions campaign, “World class experiences without the world-class ego,” will include online and trade publication advertising, as well as a newly branded trade show booth for Positively Cleveland’s convention sales team to use. Social media will become a huge platform for this new brand. They want to encourage visitors to brag about their favorite parts of our city by taking pictures and then posting them to www.ThisisCLE.com!
Cleveland is a great place to be. I think this campaign will help truly showcase the positive impact Cleveland has on its visitors. CLEVELAND ROCKS! TV20 was at the event, you can watch our coverage coming up during the “Weekly News Wrap-Up” Stay tuned to TV20 for more on what is happening in our community!
Check out the new destination branding video for Cleveland!