To Brand a City – Ways My Brain is Growing

What’s the best thing about Philadelphia? Well it has to be its diversity. Diversity of people, culture, art, events, neighborhoods, etc. So maybe it’s ironic that the best thing about Philly seems to make it somewhat hard to brand. How do you develop a catchy, consistent tagline for a city with so many different things to offer?

Well, Visit Philadelphia gives it a shot.

And that’s where I serve as Advertising Intern this semester, doing the small projects they give me and sitting in on as many meetings as possible. The stuff I’ve learned so far has really been amazing.

So the original problem still stands: How do you brand an entire city, encompassing all the great things it has to offer? How to you develop a brand personality for something so broad?

Well, as one of my bosses mentioned the other day, it comes down to finding first and foremost what all of the aspects of Philadelphia have in common. We have a lot of different programs and initiatives that we advertise at Visit Philly, and it’s extremely important we keep everything on message.

For me, the branding they came up with just plain works. The current campaign is the “evolution” (as it’s called around the office) of the previous campaign, With Love, Philadelphia. It’s called My Phillyosophy. The former ads were designed as love letters from the city to different categories of people (“Dear Art Ooglers” or “Dear Never Met a Parade You Didn’t Like”), and the latter ads are designed as an expression of things or ideas about Philly that are important to people. Both strategies allow the brand personality to grow very strong by facilitating what is essentially a lot of direct communication to the target.

The positioning of the brand that comes out in these ads is genius. We get the sense that Philadelphia has as much to offer as a huge city like New York, yet it’s more approachable and fun-loving. There’s a tongue-in-cheek toughness about the Philly portrayed in these ads, a sort of confidence that is firmly anti-pretentious.

It’s been a fascinating experience watching as this campaign develops. My bosses are vigilant about discussing with me every aspect of the creative and the strategy. Although the With Love campaign was very successful and well-received, I’ve heard why it’s sometimes important to move on with a brand, to keep the advertising and communication with the consumer fresh. I’ve seen why the previous incarnation of the Phillyosophy campaign was flawed because the copy was hard to read and the color blocks were inconsistent. These sorts of insights are fascinating, as well as incredibly useful to my future as an advertiser. I can feel my brain growing with new knowledge every day. I’m thrilled that I get the opportunity to sit in on these important meetings and work on projects which further an actually exciting campaign.

(I love Visit Philly so much, it was a daunting task in and of itself to pick just one ad to include in this post.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *