02 October 2007

Brisvegas! nothing is better than a strategy.

DIFFUSION recently spent the weekend in Brisbane, Australia's fastest growing capital city. Often referred to as BrisVegas by locals and visitors alike, the city is now seeking to rid itself of the moniker.

Tired of what they describe as a now "hackneyed" tag, Brisbane Marketing's David Regan and Tourism Queensland's CEO Anthony Hayes have set themselves the (un)enviable task of "discovering" the "essence of Brisbane".

"We are going to try to distil the essence of Brisbane . . . find out what is it that makes Brisbane so special," they said in a weekend Courier Mail article.

According to the article, the pair want to "find" a new slogan (the current is "Not Just a Sleepy Town") and branding that can be used to promote Brisbane at home and and overseas in much the same way "I ♥ NY" is associated with the Big Apple, New Zealand's "100% Pure" and Victoria's Jigsaw and romantic Melbourne campaigns, both of which have been running since the the early to mid 90s.

What's interesting about the announcement is that these pair ARE actually charged with marketing the city, but their expertise is seemingly being challenged by their inability to "discover" or even distil the brand essence of the city themselves or through their organisations. A task that DIFFUSION would consider would be an essential part of their roles.

They said the first stage of their work would include a "slogan search" which would involve focus groups and which would be used to gauge interest and knowledge of Brisbane businesses and attractions.

The problem with approaches like these rather than focussing on a long term brand strategy like Melbourne has done (they are currently up to phase 8 of a campaign which commenced in 1992/3) and then developing a series of campaigns from this, they appear to be going the way of advertising agencies looking for big ideas in the short-term fix of a nifty slogan or tagline.

Both Brisbane Marketing and Tourism Queensland would do well to read something like Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class and focus on urban renewal and how the city is once again encouraging the inward flow of creative talent, just two of the big positive impacts coming from its mercurial growth.

The need to develop alternative monikers to BrisVegas, love it or hate it, is just a diversion from really understanding and building on the brand essence of a city or any product for that matter (see DIFFUSIONblog 10 October 2005 Place Branding), something that requires both time and a real sustained strategy.