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Wed July 27, 2011
Rethinking, And Rebranding, Hartford
Hartford's "New England’s Rising Star" campaign is a decade old. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, city boosters say it's time to rebrand. The Rising Star campaign was meant to promote the state's investment in the capital city. But it's dated. A rising star kind of leaves the sense that Hartford is an okay place that's getting better, the kind of message sent by a city that hopes you don't notice it has an inferiority complex. So here we are 10 years later and it’s time for a new thing. These rough ideas were part of a $200,000 effort by the MetroHartford Alliance and were presented at a meeting by the Canadian ad firm Cundari. They say people like coming to the city for its live events and its restaurants, and they've built branding campaigns and multi-colored logos to sell it. One idea is this: Hartford: Make Your Own History. "Today in Hartford history, Timmy of West Hartford discovered a new species of spider...I reached into a box, and it crawled right up my arm, and it was…And that was today in Hartford History.” Then there were Hartford: What’s Your Moment, and, Hartford: What Do You Want To Do Today? And then it came time for audience feedback. "I think that you're preaching to the choir. I think you got to reach the farmers like me that live out in Manchester, or my brother an his three kids out in Farmington who look at Hartford like the other side of the world." "If you're going to target to the choir group, you know one of the important choir groups in the city of Hartford is also the multi-cultural communities, specifically the Hispanic community... "You could really start shifting the image of Hartford and begin to persuade some of those naysayers to give it a chance. "'Well I'm from Hartford,' and they say, 'Well, tell me about it. The answer isn't going to be that touring version of Cats was here last week. I didn't hear the words Mark Twain or the Colt mentioned even once." "The lowercase H's - I'm just concerned already that the jokes are going to fly that Hartford couldn't even go with the upper case H..." "And when I look at the arrows, although I love the concept of wayfinding, what it kind of brings to me first when I look at it is there's a white H in the middle and the arrows point away from it." Whatever the new ad campaign looks like, the plan is to roll it out next summer. For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.