Steve Berg’s excellent op-ed that rethinks our Twin Cities brand and a similar essay published last week by Jay Walljasper and sponsored by the McKnight Foundation should inspire plenty of creative feedback from us Twin Cities and Minnesota enthusiasts. Both articles feed on the outstanding work done so far by Greater MSP, a new organization focused on more effective marketing of the Twin Cities metropolitan area as a great place to live and to do business.
Inspired by both pieces and by an invigorating 53-degree July morning, I am moved to publicly propose the following brand themes, which I’ve been playing with for some time. I’ll admit right up front that this idea sometimes has been met with a nice pat on the head and kindly advice to leave marketing to the professionals.
But darn it, I like this. As the movie cliche’ goes, or from a scene right out of Mad Men, “it’s so crazy it just might fly. Work with me here.”
MetroSota: Coolest Place in America
MinneMetro: The Coolest (and Hottest) Place to Do Business
MetroSota: Simply the Coolest
“Cool’’ gets at a lot of things, covers a lot of bases, confronts reality and makes it work for us. It hints at our outstanding assets _ arts and culture and theater, and first-class parks and bicycling infrastructure and public amenities. It gets at the fact that we rank highly as a magnet for the smart young creative class, an absolutely crucial competitive advantage. It gets at our progressiveness, in the best non-partisan and non-ideological sense, and our comfort with racial diversity (which needs work, by the way). “Cool” never seems to go out of style as a word denoting basic goodness. It conveys a sense of being out front and yet grounded, an understated excellence, a kind of confident humility, modern yet not ostentatious, hinting at equanimity and stability. Of course we are literally colder than most big cities much of the time, but everybody loves “cool” a lot more than cold.
The following definition is right out of Wikipedia. for coolness as an aesthetic, and the entry elaborates on the word’s evolution from African-American culture:
Coolness is an admired aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style, influenced by and a product of the Zeitgeist. Because of the varied and changing connotations of cool, as well its subjective nature, the word has no single meaning. It has associations of composure and self-control (cf. the OED definition) and often is used as an expression of admiration or approval. Although commonly regarded as slang, it is widely used among disparate social groups, and has endured in usage for generations.
“MetroSota” or “MinneMetro’’would take some getting used to, but both are new and punchy, and they get past the unwieldy and multi-syllabic Minneapolis and St. Paul Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area. Plus, I think retaining our identity with our Greater Minne and Sota, our larger state of lakes-woods-prairies and small towns, is important and worth keeping. MSP might work too, as it’s on the luggage tags and now that everybody reserves their own flights, it’s become more commonplace. Toward the end of Walljasper’s piece, he suggests emphasizing our vitality, activity, or heartiness and hardiness, as a theme. I’d add healthiness, on which we consistently rank at the very top, as well as our longstanding distinction as a “brainpower state” and our emergence as a health-care mecca. Another important theme is that greater racial and cultural diversity, something increasingly valued by every competitive metropolitan area in the nation.
So we could go with:
MetroSota: Hardy, Healthy and Cool.
MinneMetro: Smart, Diverse, Hardy, Healthy, and Simply the Coolest
When I first crossed the St. Croix River in to Minnesota in 1971, the billboard on the west bank of the river said, “Welcome to Minnesota! Have Fun!” I did have fun but quickly grew to quite seriously and deeply love this place and make it my own. In keeping with that spirit, let’s have serious fun with this.