11.27.2010

Branding a City

You may not think of a City as a brand, but branding a city is quite important. Wheeling is a city of 30,000 residents located in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia.  Its infrastructure is ideal for the distribution of goods and services and makes the city accessible to an abundance of distinguished educational institutions, world-class medical facilities, and ethnic and cultural diversity. Exceptionally situated within 500 miles of over half of the population of the United States, its mission is to facilitate an environment which stimulates economic growth for jobs, a competitive tax base, city services, education, recreation, and quality of life.  Wheeling is the home of Wheeling Jesuit University, West Liberty University, West Virginia Northern Community College, and Wheeling Business College.  Institutions within 60 miles include: West Virginia University, The University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and Carnegie Mellon University.  There are hundreds of events, fairs, and festivals as well as a vibrant arts and culture environment.  Additionally, Wheeling is known for its hip music scene.

Wheeling has an identity crisis. There is no brand. The people here feel disconnected from other parts of the state geographically and from each other.  The sense of community is waning and there is low morale.  When a local connects with a visitor or new-comer they do not say, “Welcome to Wheeling” but instead they say, “Why are you here?” (The inference is why would anyone in their right mind come here?”). Wheeling is definitely low in brand equity and we need a positive brand, message, and morale booster – immediately.
 Currently, brand loyals have lost a sense of pride in Wheeling and have become complacent and generally negative; brand switchers try to embrace their new hometown however they are discouraged by the negative energy of the brand loyals.  We want the consumer to have a great sense of pride in the city and think the city “is cool”.  We want Wheeling to have a cult-following of devotees.My questions to you are this

1). What it is about your city that you absolutely love/are you loyal to your city? (or do you simply live there because of your job)?

2). Name one city, other than your current city, where you desire to live and work.  Name five reasons why.

3). What do you think of when you think of West Virginia? Have you ever been to Wheeling? If yes, what was your impression/experience?

4).  Rank the following in number order with 1 being the best and 5 being the worst in terms of what is important to you from your city/tow
            a. Location
                 b. Job Opportunities
                 c. Housing (old versus new, condos, price)
                 d. Recreational activities
                 e. Cool “third places” like restaurants, bars, wine bars, art galleries

5). What types of “third places” are important to you?
Thank you for taking the time to answer my survey!

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