Officials in Detroit unveiled the
results of a yearlong rebranding effort, spearheaded by the Detroit
Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, at the organization’s annual
meeting on Jan. 31. But don’t look for a new slogan -- there isn’t
“Most destinations that have launched
new branding initiatives in recent years have not been very
successful,” said Christopher Baum, right, senior vice president of
sales and marketing for the CVB. “One of the reasons for that is
it’s hard to encapsulate an entire region in one phrase.”
The Detroit bureau instead identified
five strengths of the city -- cars, culture, gaming, music and
sports -- and has resolved to talk about Detroit as an affordable
and accessible destination with a unique mix of all of these
The new branding strategy does have its
symbols. The bureau coordinated with the Detroit Tigers to adopt an
Old English “D” that will represent the city at large. It also
developed a hot rod with DaimlerChrysler, known as the D-Rod, which
Baum says captures the “spirit and power” of the city.
Baum realizes marketing efforts can
only go so far, and a city’s success is largely dependent on its
inherent assets and the quality of its facilities.
In that regard, he said, Detroit’s
hospitality product is improving dramatically, with four new
400-plus-room hotels being built (the revamped 455-room Westin
Book-Cadillac Detroit and new properties at the three downtown
casinos), a redeveloped riverfront, renovations at the airport and
more. Baum is convinced Detroit can compete with other Midwestern
cities, given its low average room rates and new facilities.
“Chicago is a great town, but you can’t
go there for your Midwestern meeting for the rest of the history of
your organization,” Baum said.
For the meetings industry, Baum plans
to bring in more planners to witness the changes firsthand and to
combat outdated perceptions of the city. He said the bureau also is
upping its involvement with industry associations such as Meeting
Professionals International and ASAE & The Center for
Association Leadership, using sponsorships of key events and
In addition, Baum plans to reorient and
expand his staff to focus on smaller, single-property meetings, an
area where he feels the bureau has fallen short.
Detroit is not alone in recasting its
* Late last year, the
Santa Barbara (Calif.) Convention and Visitors Bureau hired a top
Hollywood ad agency to give the destination a boost.
* The West Hollywood
Convention and Visitors Bureau will complete its own rebranding
study in April.
* Next month, the
state of Missouri will announce a new advertising agency after
firing its previous agency in October.
* In May, the St.
Paul, Minn., RiverCentre Convention and Visitors Authority will
unveil its new name and branding strategy in an effort to help
distinguish the Twin City from its sibling, Minneapolis.