Everyone knows who the “Windy City” is… and the “Big Apple.”   If I mention I’m going to Baltimore, the first thing I hear is “try some Maryland crabcakes at Inner Harbor.” When I visited Miami earlier this year, the response was about theMiami based Celebrity Century cruise ship palm trees, cruise ships, and Miami Beach. 

That immediate response is the first image that pops to mind and what is reinforced over and over by conversations, reactions and suggestions — providing the brand image for a city in a consumer’s mind, isn’t it?

Because I run a marketing firm north of Akron, it matters to me what people think of when they think of the brand of Cleveland, Akron and Northeast Ohio? I hope that they think of:

The Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James. Green City on a Blue Lake. Football Hall of Fame. Amazing health care and area hospitals. Fabulous Art museums, galleries and artists like Don Drumm and Ryn Clarke. Outstanding higher education with 27 accredited colleges and universities. One of the most popular national parks in the USA.

It’s easy for me to feel defensive when I hear snide comments about the area from people who have never been here.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. This post was inspired by my friend Karen Ollis Toula of Cresent Moon Arts and Earth Bound Press when she sent me an email a few weeks ago:

I get a little tired hearing jokes and negative stuff about Cleveland. Maybe its because I’m getting older, but I see a tremendous value here and it begins with the people.
There is much to celebrate here, like a graduation from any one of our world class educational institutes….. to the efforts of everyday people in creating social change……… fund raising for animal protections…. to the famous behind the scenes personalities, to the not so famous…. From the tried and true methodologies, to the innovators seeking solutions to the current problems. Its environmentalists, lobbyists, medical researchers to the doctors on the front lines among the average people that comprise Northeast Ohio.

Karen, obviously I agree. After living on the East coast for 11 years before returning to Ohio, it helped me to see the region with fresh eyes.

One of the things I treasure most is Lake Erie because it helps to define our region. The environmental lake management goes beyond controlling invasive weeds to address the pollution of the 70’s. Changes over the last 25 years have turned Lake Erie into a thing of beauty.

To me, Northeast Ohio means:

  • family
  • strong work ethic
  • quality of life
  • beautiful change of seasons
  • driving without the stress of traffic jams

So, this article is my “plus” to the region and area events.

How about you? How are you making a difference in the branding of your city or region? Do you consider yourself a brand ambassador when you travel or publish? I’d be interested to hear your comments.

Brand Positioning of a Region: Northeast Ohio, Cleveland-Akron-Canton

9 thoughts on “Brand Positioning of a Region: Northeast Ohio, Cleveland-Akron-Canton

  • Friday, April 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Great post, Chris-we need to tell the great news about Cleveland whenever we can. I’m proud to be an ambassador for Cleveland. We have so many incredible attributes as a community, but I think our real claim to fame is that we have the best people on the planet living here.

  • Friday, April 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Very interesting topic.

    I’m from Ljubljana, Slovenia and for us Cleveland is the city with the largest Slovenian population in the USA.

    City branding is not an easy task. I believe that Slovenia and our capital Ljubljana haven’t used all possibilities in order to make the country and the city more recognizable.

    One of the options for city branding is using cities for movie locations, because it could generate some buzz and attract the “set jetters”. Recently Ljubljana wasted an opportunity to be a part of the movie Veronika decides to die (Paolo Coelho’s book was set in Ljubljana) – the movie was set in the big apple.

    Maybe a bunch of small but consistent steps could change the first image of the city/country that pops to mind. But it’s not an easy task.


  • Monday, April 12, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    As you know Chris, most of my relatives live overseas. However, when they come to visit they’re usually here 2-3 weeks!! I have no trouble, whatsoever, planning events for them during their time with us in Ohio.

    Here’s how my calendar usually starts;
    Stan Hywet Hall
    Amish Country
    Warther Museum
    Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
    Indians/Browns game (depending on time of year)
    Trip to Niagara Falls
    Cuyahoga Valley Parks – picnic/walks
    Weekends to potter around the house….

    I could go on and on……..

    Great post. We are very fortunate to live in an area that has so much to offer.

  • Monday, April 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Kelly –
    That is wonderful to hear about. Thanks for making such a great comment.

  • Monday, April 12, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I have to agree! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

  • Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 7:29 am

    I can see the t-shirts now –
    Cleveland – We never wanted to be NYC or LA
    Mother Earth loves North East Ohio – No tsunamis, no earthquakes, no volcanoes, no wildfires, no mudslides, no hurricanes, no cyclones, no tornadoes, no droughts, no floods, no melting glaciers (been there, done that)
    Ohio – “The Heartland” – geographically the heart of the USA
    Ohio – If we have to explain it, you don’t need to be here
    Ohio – Global Warming – No problem here
    Ohio – Ocean front property, after Global Warming
    The temperatures are lower, but the people are warmer
    SAT scores go up as you leave the coasts of the US
    And the livin’ is easy – Ohio

  • Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Love your t-shirt slogans. And I agree (for the most part!)

    IMHO, I’d leave out the “no tornados” (we had a couple nasty ones in 1992 and 1985 that I personally remember/witnessed) and the “no flooding” (the 100 year flood in 2003)… but a natural disaster here in Ohio is definitely an unusual event, thankfully!

    Thanks for the comments!

  • Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I have to agree that small and consistent steps are needed. One big whopping step seems like a big help, but I think it’s the habit, the routine, the step-by-step nature of things that really makes the biggest change over time. Not a giant leap at once because that can often be a fad or a flash in the pan.
    Thank you for commenting. And thanks also for bringing to our attention that Cleveland is the biggest Slovenian population in the USA. It’s a niche market as they say.

  • Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Because here is a list of multiplayer games is that the leave was asked for more. gaggcdkfdkkd

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