We all have heard of product branding but what does it take to brand an entire city?
An incredible campaign that continues to resonate with people more than 35 years later, is the iconic “I Love New York” rebranding of New York.
To appreciate the significance of this campaign and what it did for New York City, one must recognize what the city was like a decade prior to its launch. In the late sixties and mid-seventies many of the NY neighborhoods were in disrepair, the streets were filthy, crime was at an all time high, and tourism was at an all-time low.
The New York State Department for Economic Development selected Madison Avenue advertising firm Wells Rich Greene to create a tourist-friendly campaign to encourage visitors to return to The Big Apple. Hence the campaign and Milton Glaser’s iconic logo completely changed how New York is viewed today.
Visitors quickly returned to NYC. Hotels, nightclubs, and restaurants got booked. Soon the tourism industry was flourishing and the city’s recovery had begun.
This is a simple summary of New York’s successful comeback, but no city rebranding effort is ever easy.
ATOM Innovation + Product Development Co-founder and CEO Jodi Deros knows. She has spearheaded many rebranding efforts for such major clients as Del Monte, Kibbles and Bits, Double Hotel Boutique, the Ritz Carlton, as well the Detroit Club and its surrounding cities. Those of you who know the area, may remember that famous slogan, “It’s a Great Time in Detroit.”
Today ATOM is working to revitalize and rebrand a once thriving region of a city that has lost its luster, South Scottsdale.
McDowell Road, once the booming commercial center for Scottsdale, experienced a significant economic downturn as the city expanded rapidly towards the north.
The closure of Los Arcos Mall, and the relocation of many anchor retailers and auto dealerships left behind decaying structures, empty lots, for-sale signs and the hope of redevelopment.
That hope is being realized with the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance (SGA) a private sector organization dedicated to advancing revitalization and investment opportunities in the South Scottsdale area along the McDowell Road Corridor, which is where Scottsdale was originally established in 1894. Deros and her husband, Yani, serve on the SGA Board.
Community participation and feedback are at the heart of every great rebranding effort, and for South Scottsdale, it was no small feat.
Over 15 months, the SGA knocked on more than 15,000 doors in South Scottsdale; participated in more than 30 community events and focus groups; deployed campaigns on Social Media; delivered 24,000 pieces of literature twice to nearly every household south of Osborne; and recruited 10% of South Scottsdale households to participate in online surveys regarding their attitudes, ideas and feedback about their community.
The findings of this research were broken into four pillars of most importance to residents of South Scottsdale.
1) Quality of Life - South Scottsdale is progressive, hopeful and engaged.
2) Location - South Scottsdale’s convenience and proximity to nearly everything in the valley.
3) Outdoor Recreation - Residents enjoy an outdoor lifestyle utilizing the canals and parks for recreation parks
4) Unique Architectural – Residents enjoy the unique style of their homes with a specific emphasis on modern and mid-century architecture.
With that information, the SGA turned to ATOM to utilize its proprietary STREAM Research to further define and develop the brand. “STREAM is a research tool that allows us to create private online communities and conduct sustained research activities with our end users or audience that then lead to higher caliber solutions,” said Yani Deros, president and co-founder of ATOM. “This allows us to better understand attitudes, perceptions, routines and habits to inspire product design, technology and brand identities.”
The STREAM Research showed that South Scottsdale is made unique by its residents, they are diverse with an inviting nature; value a sense of progress; have healthy, active and sustainable lifestyles; appreciate nature and the outdoors; and actively seek out the beauty in each day.
Hummingbird Selected for Logo
For that reason, the hummingbird, a symbol for the enjoyment of life and lightness of being, was unveiled as the foundation of a new identity for South Scottsdale. The logo was designed by ATOM based on insights and findings gathered by its STREAM Research community members.
“Native to Arizona - the humming bird that you will find in your back yards - is extraordinarily unique, colorful, vibrant, efficient, and nimble,” said Kirsten Rutherford, Research Design Manager at ATOM. “While modest in size, the hummingbird can achieve things many other birds cannot.
“Our decision to embrace the Hummingbird as a logo was inspired by the community’s desire to be perceived as a neighborly and friendly community, and its active lifestyles,” she said. “The bold colors and modern font choice were chosen to conceptualize the appreciation for mid-century modern design.”
Last month, more than 200 residents of South Scottsdale, along with Scottsdale city leaders and business representatives, gathered at ASU Sky Song Innovation Center for the unveiling of a comprehensive identity for the area including the rebranding effort and new logo.
The creative and comprehensive research efforts were made possible by a grant from the Scottsdale Industrial Development Authority (IDA), Honor Health, Southwest Gas, SRP and dozens of local corporate sponsors.
The concepts presented at the event were enthusiastically embraced by those who attended including longtime supporter, Scottsdale City Council Woman Susan Klapp. "I couldn't be happier about the results and the hard work members of the community put into this,” she said.