Saturday, June 14, 2014

Thoughts on Houston's newest brand: The City With No Limits

Recently the Greater Houston Partnership rolled out its newest marketing campaign for Houston, "The City With No Limits", with broad coverage in the Chronicle, CultureMap, and HBJ.  What makes this campaign different from previous ones is that its core mission is different: instead of the usual GHCVB campaign trying to attract tourists, this one is designed to convince people, especially young college grads and professionals, that Houston has a great quality of life.  It also marks a new direction for the Partnership, which will now go beyond trying to attract jobs and economic development to attracting talent to fill those jobs.  I strongly agree with both of those new directions.
"While the Convention and Visitors Bureau targets convention and tourist business, the Partnership's campaign is designed to get people to move here, Harvey said."
I really like a lot of things about this campaign:
  • The clever inverted H logo:

The only part I've had a problem with so far is the neighborhood quiz/survey, which I think is broken.  I answered questions preferring high-density, urban, and walkable, yet it recommended River Oaks to me instead of where I actually live, Midtown - the very obviously correct answer.

City branding and identity are topics I've covered quite a bit in this blog, including:
  • Why brand a city?
  • Houston's branding history and some strategic thoughts where I discuss the GHCVB vs. GHP problem, brands I've proposed, and how we have the distinctive positioning of offering the "best of both worlds" between a big, multi-ethnic, international city with great amenities, culture, and opportunities while also being affordable and fast-growing with a feeling of community (the "big small town" label people often use describing Houston).
  • Previous branding/identity ideas I've put out for discussion:
  1. Houspitality: I still really believe in this one and think it could be very complementarily integrated with the No Limits campaign.
  2. Houston: (Galactic Hub), Global Village, American Dream, Texas Spirit
  3. "Houston, Texas - Problem Solved" based on the well-known Apollo 13 quote, "Houston, we have a problem..."
  4. "Engineering City", or "Engineering World Headquarters", or "Engineering Hub/City/Capital of the Americas"
  5. "Tropical Texas"
  6. "Open City of Opportunity" or "Texas' Open City of Global Opportunity" (more), summing up our friendliness, hospitality, entrepreneurial energy, minimal regulations (including no zoning), open-mindedness, diversity, affordability, social mobility, optimism, and charity (especially after Katrina).
I know we live in a cynical age and there are a lot of people sneering and poking fun at this campaign, but I think it really deserves our support and an honest chance. That said, I'm going poke a little fun: I definitely think the new "Houston: The City With No Limits" brand should go on all our city limit signs... ;-P

UPDATE: Christopher Andrews has some good thoughts on it too over at his blog.

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At 10:22 PM, June 15, 2014, Anonymous Rich Robins said...

A city with no limits, that nevertheless won't allow jitney transport services to stray from Washington Avenue? Paradoxical, huh? :-)

Perhaps Houston's too interested in aiming for #1 in this Top 10 ranking:

The American Lung Association continues to rank Houston in the Top 10 of the USA's most polluted places to live (despite Houston's favorable flatland conditions and Gulf Coast winds which help alleviate air pollution):

Might Houston also be where it's the most expensive to expand light rail, in terms of expansion's cost-per-mile?

Houston's doing well overall, but can do better.

At 6:25 AM, June 18, 2014, Blogger Ed said...

The City of No Limits is a creative articulation of the American Dream (intended or not). Consequently, Houston is positioning itself as a location where the American Dream can be more easily achieved. If the city can exhibit the discipline to align strategic choices on asset creation, infrastructure investment and public policy, it will result in an even stronger economic performance. You can learn more about the American Dream and community branding by visiting the website.


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