Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The New Network

I grew up with three networks: NBC, ABC, and CBS. Fox came along later. Then cable drew me away from the networks and, today, I rarely set my TiVo to network programming. Websites such as YouTube and Blinkx are networks for the new attention spans. But, the first "network" that comes to mind for most today is their network of friends (online and off).

When describing their success drawing young people to Atlanta, the president of the city's Chamber of Commerce recently told the NY Times:

“What we’re seeing is the jury of the most skeptical age group in America has looked at Atlanta’s character and likes it,” Sam A. Williams, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, said.

But Mr. Williams acknowledged the difficulty of replicating that phenomenon on purpose.

Had the chamber tried to advertise Atlanta, he said, “we might have screwed it up —because they’re much more trusting of their own network than they are of any marketing campaign.”

“You can’t fake it here,” he said. “You either do it or you don’t.”


Slapping a logo, jingle, and a tagline on a city undermines the objectives of the branding effort to begin with. A sense of place needs to be real, not manufactured.

Chicago has done a great job by carefully choosing development that fits its artistic heritage. Millennium Park, for example, vibrantly appeals to both tourist and native. Unlike my neck of the woods in San Francisco, where the biggest tourist areas are anathemas to locals (Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39), Chicago successfully blends the needs of both and leverages the visions of Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas in the process.

1 comment:

fCh said...

By extension, what's your take on Cool Britannia, success or failure?

I know of many politically and economically repositioned countries (from the former communist bloc in Europe) that have been trying (re-)branding at country level. The results are wonderful except that no one notices them...