The essence of the opening quote and of the book is brand conservancy. Protection. Vigilance. Curation.
Many branding books have been written on how to build a brand. Now we’ve got a clear and concise guide to nurturing and protecting our most valuable asset from the lack of discipline and understanding that devalue, if not destroy, our brand.
The book title itself is a quote. “I immediately recognized how it embodies everything I believe about branding,” Kurt writes in the opening chapter about the expression he heard an account manager use with a client.
And with that … two dozen quotes about brand conservancy from You Can’t Ride Two Horses with One Ass.
Most of us watched the 2013 Super Bowl in which the Baltimore Ravens completely blew out the San Francisco 49ers … until the lights went out at the Superdome in New Orleans. When play resumed, the 49ers scored 17 straight points to make it a competitive game before falling short in the end. The Ravens weren’t the only winners, though.
“The Half-Decent Tweet That Dazzled A Nation”
What stirred up loads of excitement during the blackout was a pic tweeted from Oreo. As is the case with most live, televised events these days, social media provided additional layer of fun and interest. And a few brands, including Nabisco’s Oreo, were on top of the situation.
Wishing I’d used KeepVid a week ago, I searched for it elsewhere online.
I didn’t find the Live It Up video, but I did learn that Colorado Springs is “the natural fit” for my family vacation, sporting event, or business conference!
Give a look to this video posted to YouTube in January 2011 by VisitCOS (the same folks who brought you (then took away) Live It Up):
Well, OK! Nature moves to the fore and extends into lifestyle.
Let’s give a quick evaluation, primarily in terms relative to the Live It Up video you can no longer see.
A few positives:
shows off the natural beauty better than Live It Up
includes aerial shots and jib shots that immediately provide more production value than Live It Up
includes active shots that make the place feel far more alive than Live It Up
hits several major local institutions and phenomena missed by Live It Up (Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Open Space, Paint Mines Interpretive Park, USOC, AFA, Broadmoor, Hill Climb, Balloon Classic, Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, etc.)
gives Colorado Springs a one-of-a-kind feeling by definition
touches on regional history and connects it to present
A few negatives:
the music and voice are a bit too slow (don’t convey enough energy)
tries to do too much, selling to families, sporting events, business conventions (should be three separate 1:20 videos)
frequent discrepancies between the words being said and the video being shown (need to SWAP – sync words and pictures)
awkwardly abrupt ending (especially in comparison to the long :30 fade out on Live It Up)
The Bottom Line
As a slogan, The Natural Fit isn’t any more the answer than Live It Up; either would work fine and neither would work distinctively.
As a video, The Natural Fit feels more alive, rugged, vibrant, and exceptional than Live It Up. It does a much better job of showing that living means doing – rather than simply saying it repeatedly and in different ways.
Live It Up would certainly have benefited from extensive re-use of shots seen in The Natural Fit. Related: The Natural Fit could benefit from the skate park shots from Live It Up.
Both videos would convey more life and energy through quicker, more contemporary music, snappier sound from the voiceover artist and other speakers, and a higher cadence overall.
In Colorado Springs, a place I’ve called home for more than 5 years now, community leaders recently gathered and consultants were hired to create a branding campaign for the city. The targets: “residents, tourists, and the business community.”
I love a good internal branding effort – one that gathers stakeholders, is facilitated by an outside party, and results in self-discovered essence and difference. I didn’t balk at the $110,000 price tag, as many have. The fruit:
Brand Essence: Alive
Brand Truth: Living Means Doing
Brand Character: Rugged, Vibrant, and Exceptional
Great! I’m with ’em so far. I can’t say it’s all that unique, but it does fit.
The Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau posted the video on its Facebook page and asked for comments. 22 comments later, the video was removed because the feedback turned ugly (NOTE: I strongly discourage this move – if negative things are being said, you should be hosting that conversation!)
Within 24 hours, a new Facebook page, Rebrand The Springs, was created and calling for another go at the campaign by local artists (NOTE: if local people were not used to create the logo and video, as has been suggested, shame on the CVB!)
If you Google “Colorado Springs” and “Live It Up” – or just ask a handful of random locals – I expect that you’ll find plenty of other mixed and negative reviews.
Bad idea (above): two logos instead of one. Inspiration (below): better than Battle Creek Utilities.
Again, I’m fine with brand process and the resulting essence, truth, and character, but the creative execution needs help.
For the slogan and logo, a visual reference to elevation (either 6,035ft for the city or 14,115ft for Pikes Peak) would help draw a necessary connection. Abandoning a phrase that feels extremely dated (who’s “living it up” in 2011?) by abandoning a slogan or tagline completely would have been perfectly acceptable to me. The mountain should have a much stronger resemblance to the iconic east face of Pikes Peak.
On the upside, the green and purple work for me. The colors fit and are one of the most unique features of the entire effort. They roughed up the peak a little, which implies rugged. The font choice is fine; it’s not especially common and has a little style to it.
As noted in the caption above, I abhor the idea of two logos; a logo is a logo is a logo. It can change and evolve over time, but two logos in use simultaneously is a basic branding no-no. It feels especially disjointed when both appear at the end of the video.
In the video, I see several problems, including:
excessive length (the ending – a long, slow fade of music and logos – reinforces this by lacking any punch)
limited style, dated style (as a radio station might say, it’s “80’s 90’s and Now!”)
poor lighting, inconsistent lighting (dark dog park, overexposed slouching gentleman, blown out Garden of the Gods background, etc)
a too-old-too-often cast, bad makeup (fairly or unfairly referred to by many as a “retirement community” video)
a minority service worker toiling away in the background as two lovely ladies chat about achieving the Peak (really! happens at :45)
an insider and moneyed vibe, as if we’re supposed to know who the people are (I do recognize about a half dozen of them)
the city and landscape do not do enough of their own talking
To that last bullet point: a basic fault of the structure is that there’s too much saying and not enough showing and proving. The worst case is the poor kid forced to call his city “radical.” Though they used to be sufficient, boastful, superlative claims (awesome! exceptional! vibrant!) without clear support are unconvincing (especially when uncomfortably delivered). Despite several good shots and fantastic photos, this too-much-saying problem could not be overcome in the nearly 4 minute presentation.
There are many other subjective issues I have with it, but those are basics.
Stepping back, though, there’s a bigger issue. This video serves no constituency in particular. The desired takeaway is completely unclear. It seems obvious to me that if you have 3 different targets – locals, tourists, and businesses – that you need 3 different videos. Why? Because they each have unique sets of needs! One video will not serve them all and, as a result, will serve no one.
People who live here: great things to know and share, a little lofty – interesting and impressive facts about our landscape, history, and institutions; places to visit and things to do – both ordinary and off the beaten path; specific hiking and biking trails; stuff to brag to your family and friends about
People considering a visit: less lofty and more practical – exactly what a 3 day visit might look like in Colorado Springs; top tourist spots for kids and families; restaurants, shops, and galleries in downtown, Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs; Pikes Peak by road and rail; hiking and biking trails; museums; spots off the beaten path; proximity to Denver; DIA and COS
People and businesses thinking about moving here: very practical, balancing lifestyle with dollars and cents – start the outline with all the top 10 types of awards received from publications like Forbes, Money, Men’s Health, and others; top institutions like the United States Olympic Committee and Olympic Training Center, the United States Air Force Academy, and The Broadmoor; Pikes Peak by road, rail, and trail; top employers like USAA, Memorial Health Systems, Compassion International, and others; a look into neighborhoods and local parks
That’s just a quick, one-pass effort at outlining videos to address the three segments’ specific needs and interests. Obviously, a ton of video would be used in all 3; it’s not a significant, multiplied effort.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Colorado Springs has lots to love. It’s a beautiful place with a great climate, rich history, and good people. I appreciate the effort and agree with the foundational brand concepts generated.
A truly collaborative effort would have been more authentic and better received. Take the brand concepts, share them with locals, then turn them loose on logos, slogans, and videos.
What great content for a stand alone website that body of locally produced work would make!
Of course, a process that open is just as scary as negative Facebook comments.