11 September 2010

My Interview with FFWD Weekly Magazine

Kevin Franco, Owner, Franco Media
A look at branding Calgary
Published September 9, 2010 by Trevor Scott Howell in Urban Living

The city of Calgary’s decision to rebrand itself is quite unnecessary. There is nothing wrong with the current one, Heart of the New West, which was recently launched — in 2003.

Unless you have a budget rivalling Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, you don’t change you’re slogan every few years. Besides, even though it hasn’t been finalized, calling Calgary, “Canada’s most dynamic city,” is not, well, a dynamic slogan. And it’s arguably not worth the $200,000 that has been paid out so far for it.

City slogans become part of the city’s personality — if left alone. Look at Texas, it has “Don’t Mess With Texas” and New York City has “I Love New York.” People love New York City because they haven’t changed that slogan for decades — now it’s iconic.

Cities feel they need slogans to aid in economic development. It should evoke positive emotions making people want to visit, move to and do business with the city. A spinoff of this is the benefit of civic pride, people grow into the slogan over time and a city can become synonymous with the slogan.

My family has been here since 1908 on my mother’s side and 1956 on my dad’s side. I was born in the same hospital as my mum. I’ve seen Calgary evolve and grow into a major player, especially over the past decade.

It’s a vibrant city with one of the youngest demographics. The mountains are a stone’s throw away. We’ve developed culturally as well; there is always something happening in this city.

We haven’t entirely shaken off the cowboy image. In fact, there are people who still think we’re an outpost on the Prairies. I’m cool with that.

The attitude here is very entrepreneurial, very can-do, which sounds cheesy and would be a terrible slogan by the way. But if you want to do a fundraiser, for example, there is no shortage of people here who will jump in and make it happen.

There’s an optimism you see here that you don’t see out East. There’s a belief here that if you do something, it’s going to work.

There are some very smart, talented people here who are making things happen. We have one of the highest penetrations of head offices in Canada. In Canada, we’re not looked at as one of the top cities — but we are.

Maybe that’s part of an inferiority complex that is driving this whole need for a new slogan. Maybe there’s a feeling that we’re uncomfortable with being No 1. or No. 4 as far as cities go.

But as far as labelling Calgary “dynamic,” that can apply to every city. There are probably 200 businesses with the word dynamic in it.

It sounds like something city council came up with, not something a California firm dreamed up. The $200,000-price tag sounds a bit rich too. The fee itself doesn’t rattle my chain so much as they went outside of the city to get the work done.

Our creative team has unanimously decided that "Heart of the New West" should be kept as it really is a well-crafted slogan and epitomizes the core feeling the city should exemplify. Also, our team was unanimous on the thought that “dynamic” was not a great choice.

If you look at the word dynamic another way, like to say it might be energy. Energy is probably a good way to describe Calgary in terms of the energy sector but also the young demographic — it’s young and energetic or something like that.

We had a little bit of fun and explored many themes. Keep in mind that this was a fun exercise and we only spent about 15 minutes on it. Naming and slogan creation is a long process and requires much reflection and thought — we can do better with more time (and a budget).

"Vibrant Strides, Glowing Hearts"

"Making It Happen"

"City of Energy" or "Energy City"

We also had some fun with it:

“Canada's Most Dynamic Slogan"

"No Slogan Required"

"How the West was No. 1"

"Lots of things Rhyme with Calgary"

"Paving the Way"

"Git 'er Done"

“Calgary, Your Slogan Here”

“Calgary, Everybody Wants to be Mayor”

“WTF? Calgary”


Here is a link to the original article and to FFWD Weekly Magazine:

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