Up Close and Changing
The City of Jamestown is transforming to a place with an urban vibe – offering downtown living, nightlife and world-class attractions. But unlike congested and large cities, scenic farmlands and lake vistas are only 5 minutes away. The challenge becomes: “How do we let the world know what there is to see and do here?” The answer comes in the form of a city brand, Jamestown Up Close and Wonderful. As a result of funding from New York State and the Gebbie Foundation and the work of several core area attractions, the City of Jamestown engaged North Star Destination Strategies to help discover an appropriate brand for the city.
Why is branding important? Walter Pickut, editor of the Jamestown Gazette, said it best:
An amusement park is always fun. But when it sports a great big talking duck, a lop-eared dog named Goofy and a Magic Kingdom with a castle, it becomes a Brand called Disney. Fast food restaurants only serve fast food, unless a red headed clown named Ronald lives there grilling up Big Macs for you. Then it is a Brand called McDonalds. And a town is only a town. But when the whole world knows its favorite daughter, Lucy, its ice arena draws and trains Olympic class skaters and national events, and when its favorite son, Robert Jackson, was the world’s most influential jurist of the 20th Century, it is a Brand called Jamestown. (Pickut, Walter W. “Jamestown Up Close & Wonderful A World Famous Brand”. Jamestown Gazette: The People’s Paper. Vol: 02, Number: 13. March 26, 2012.)
Even though the Gebbie Foundation helped launch the brand, it belongs to the greater Jamestown region. To be successful, everyone has to take part in promoting Jamestown Up Close and Wonderful. Michael Sullivan, Brand Manager, stressed this point in the same Gazette article saying, “You could say our brand is our people, and all the things they do that no one else does. Our goal is to create a sales force of thousands of people who will proudly tell their friends and relatives in distant places, ‘When you come to visit Jamestown, here’s what you can see’.” Word of mouth is a powerful way to spread the word about the city.
In an interview published in The Post-Journal on September 4, 2012, John Merino, CEO of the Gebbie Foundation, suggested another way to get the word out was to have the logo on every package shipped out of the greater Jamestown region. Consequently, the branding effort plans to make Jamestown Up Close labels, bearing the logo and website address, available to area businesses that ship merchandise and products out of the area. Merino said: ‘When you have quality firms, like we do, they are just as much ambassadors for the community as just doing standard marketing and public relations’. (Skoczylas, Liz. “Spreading the Word: Gebbie Foundation Expands Use of ‘Up Close and Wonderful’ Brand”. (Jamestown Post-Journal. http://www.post-journal.com/page/content.detail/id/609566/Spreading-The-Word.html?nav=5192).
More critical than promoting the logo is the need to make sure the experiences people have in the city are truly wonderful. The brand has to be authentic to be effective. The Gebbie Foundation will continue to work in partnership with local, state and federal entities to ensure the greater Jamestown area provides a wonderful experience for residents and visitors who see it “up-close”.