Tuesday, November 27, 2007

So Refreshing

Durham was honored recently as one of the locations where VitalSmarts president Joseph Grenny will present a workshop around his new book Influencer.

Only one problem: under details a skyline of Raleigh, and the name of the airport Raleigh/Durham was substituted as the location. Kind of like winning the World Series, but the other team’s name is inscribed on the trophy, and the publicity is about both teams rather than the winner.

This, of course, is what place branding expert Bill Baker warned against… e.g., in a polycentric region, if you permit your brand to be hyphenated, you gradually disappear as a place or become an appendage.

The good news is that VitalSmarts is a company that obviously walks the talk and thrives on feedback. In no more time than it took to hit send and make the clarification, I had heard back from several people, one in email and two via phone just how much they appreciated the clarification, which was fixed within hours.

Oh, another thing. Between the lines it became apparent that people in this region may have neglected to make the clarification or, worse, spoke so centric that it was assumed that Durham used Raleigh for its skyline for one big city called Raleigh-Durham. :-) The City of Raleigh is working extensively with Grenny, and Capitol Broadcasting is a sponsor.

Now if we can just get the airlines to be as reasonable and responsive as VitalSmarts. Rare is the airline that will quickly respect and honor such distinctions. I guess flying at 30,000 feet so often gives a warped sense of branding. While defiant about why destination communities should help distinguish one airline from another, some communications representatives have even been downright rude and dismissive when a community asks for clarity in its brand. Even more disturbing when factoring in that to reach a destination is the reason people fly at all.

But of course, runways are “one-way streets.”

But maybe it is a college rivalry thing. The VitalSmarts guys are BYU (my alma mater, obviously back when it wasn’t as hard to gain admission), and the latest airline to be dismissive of Durham’s brand has roots in the University of Utah. And if you think Duke in Durham and UNC in Chapel Hill are intense rivals, well, let’s just say, it isn’t pretty.

No comments: