Friday, January 23, 2015

Branding Rochester, NY

It is essential for a place to take inventory of its assets to determine which of those are unique and compelling to each of its target audiences. For instance, Rochester, NY has identified the following as potential assets:
  • Large number of cultural amenities
    • Largest number of cultural workers per capita
    • Rich musical scene – Eastman School of Music, Hochstein School of Music and Dance, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rochester International Jazz Festival, numerous other music festivals
    • Numerous film festivals
    • Garth Fagan dance (and several other professional dance companies)
    • George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film
    • (Strong) National Museum of Play with the National Toy Hall of Fame
    • Rochester Museum & Science Center/Strasenburgh Planetarium
    • Abundant live theater, including Geva Theatre Center, the most attended regional theater in New York State
    • Numerous commercial and public art galleries
    • Writers & Books (one of the largest community-based literary centers in the US)
  • Abundant outdoor recreational opportunities
    • Close proximity to the Finger Lakes
    • Lake Ontario, Erie Canal, Genesee River
    • Nearby skiing
    • Very large number (100+) of public and private golf courses per capita
  • Light traffic, short commutes
  • Affordable housing
  • Excellent suburban school systems
  • Large concentration of colleges and universities
  • Smart, highly educated people
  • Concentration of optics, biotechnology, food and beverage science and fuel cell technology businesses
  • One of the largest number of utility patents issued per capita
  • Very high United Way and community foundation giving per capita
  • History of civil rights advocacy (Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass)
  • Friendly people
  • Four seasons, pleasant summers, no severe weather events

We then clustered related assets under broader headings to begin to paint a high level picture of the municipality’s key talking points. From this, we developed and then tested fourteen different brand positioning statements against the following criteria – compelling, unique and believable.

Three statements emerged as superior to the others and rated highly against all three criteria, but especially against compelling:
  • A progressive small city where science, culture and families thrive
  • Small town feel, big city culture
  • Gateway to the Finger Lakes

We found that Rochester has the greatest appeal to early career professionals from larger, more sophisticated cities who have decided to form families. They are seeking the same high level of sophistication and culture but without the long commutes, high cost of living and other hassles. In focus groups, we discovered that they talked about this as "easier access." People who had grown up in the Rochester area are even more inclined to move back when they reach that child-rearing stage in their lives.

"Finger Lakes" has many positive associations as an up-and-coming wine and tourism region and Rochester was perceived to be a cultural gateway to the region. 

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