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City branding success inspires future ideas


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The current draft of the arts district%u2019s logo incorporates images of Columbus%u2019 landmarks and symbols.
The current draft of the arts district%u2019s logo incorporates images of Columbus%u2019 landmarks and symbols.


Six years after Columbus’ branding initiative launched, instances of the city’s signature “C” can be seen everywhere: On buildings, roadside signs and even bike racks.

All of it — as city representatives, members of the public and CEO of North Star Destination Strategies Don McEachern discussed Wednesday and Thursday — speaks to the success of the initiative.

Talk of the branding highlighted the Columbus Area Visitors Center’s annual meeting Wednesday.

McEachern, whose company was hired in 2006 to help jump-start and grow the brand, returned to Columbus and recapped the progress during the past six years.

“The majority of residents — and I’m really paraphrasing a lot — appreciated … the architecture but didn’t necessarily feel connected to it and didn’t feel passionate about it,” McEachern said. “It was clear to us the brand really needed to connect the dots.”

The resulting brand sought to recognize Columbus as an “environment of excellence,” and an “uncommon atmosphere that inspires you to shape your world.” In April 2007, the city revealed a new logo, inspired by graphic designer Paul Rand’s “Dancing C,” and a new slogan that tagged Columbus as “Unexpected. Unforgettable.”

Since the city’s logo and slogan have been incorporated into city transit, buildings and other outlets, Columbus has collected its share of rave reviews, McEachern said, adding other cities are looking to Columbus as an example of successful branding.

Representatives from Columbus Area Arts Council, Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, the Visitors Center and other local organizations gathered Thursday at the Visitors Center to discuss, as McEachern said, methods of “keeping the momentum alive.”

McEachern discussed the possibility of a “brand narrative,” a story written to showcase different aspects of the community. Similar instruments have been employed by North Star to shape Mississippi’s “Find Your True South” initiative and Iowa’s “Creative Corridor” brand.

Visitors Center Executive Director Lynn Lucas was positive about the discussion.

“In my opinion, there was real consensus that we’re pleased with the progress,” she said. “But we always want to do better.”

In the next steps to grow the brand, Lucas said, the Community Brand Committee will discuss cost and other factors before taking action.

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