Cleveland. One Tough Branding Assignment.

This is a tough town to brand. Long a depressed city, it has certainly been the butt of so many jokes in the US as witnessed in this hysterical parody video made way back in 2009.

The City answered back with a complete rebrand.  They rolled out a new identity, tv, print and digital campaigns. The overall tone is bold, gritty and has an ‘indy’ sensibility about it. It was a sort of “we don’t care what you think about us” approach in response to so many years of judgement. The strategic challenge here is no doubt a tough one and the agency did a solid job in trying to “polish a turd” (sorry Cleveland).

What’s challenging for me is because the message in this ‘anthem’ video is about answering back to all of the harsh criticism, it forces the audience to further reflect on the negative aspects that the brand is trying to shed and somewhat weakens the argument. The video could have benefited from some additional production value and focus on aspects of the city that make it unique. The montage of bar, restaurant and sports imagery make it feel a bit generic.

That said, the fact that the city is making an effort to shed its old ways and trying to reinvent itself speaks volumes. The branding work is strong, and the attitude feels right. Way to go Cleveland.