Hartford's New Marketing Slogan A Familiar Tagline
By JENNA CARLESSO
January 24, 2013
HARTFORD —— Hartford has it. A new marketing slogan, that is.
A consortium of business and civic organizations, which for more than a year has explored new ways to brand the city, has chosen a slogan for its latest marketing effort, designed to spark interest in city activities and events: "Hartford Has It."
The slogan, created by the Hartford Business Improvement District, has appeared on banners throughout the city since 2011. But the phrase has been so well received, members of the consortium said, that they've selected it for a larger branding effort.
The new branding effort is meant to replace the decade-old "Hartford: New England's Rising Star" slogan.
"One of the primary goals has been to showcase and promote assets in the city, with a slight bias toward the downtown, where many critical assets are," said R. Nelson "Oz" Griebel, chief executive officer of MetroHartford Alliance. "The 'Rising Star' tagline didn't resonate with everybody. 'Hartford Has It' has been used on banners and become more ubiquitous throughout the city."
Although the slogan has been chosen, members of the consortium — which includes MetroHartford Alliance, the Hartford Business Improvement District, Hartford Public Library, H.B. Nitkin and the city, among others — said they are still ironing out the details of the campaign. 'Hartford Has It' will appear in more places — from websites to print advertisements — beginning in March, members said.
But unlike the 'Rising Star' campaign, which was splashed across the side of buses and on billboards, the new effort will focus on using social media and Hartford.com — a website run by the business improvement district that highlights many of the city's activities and events – to get the message out.
The earlier branding was aimed at attracting people from all over New England to Hartford, said Jordan Polon, director of marketing for the business improvement district. The new campaign seeks to draw people from the immediate metro area.
"It just makes good sense to target the people in this area," she said. "Let's help these people find more to do within a 20-minute drive of their house. It's a no-brainer."
Griebel said the consortium has not raised funds for the new marketing effort. Instead, businesses that are part of the group may include the new slogan in their own advertising materials. Most of the promotion will be done through the Internet, he said.
The decision to run with a tagline already used throughout Hartford, and to operate on a low budget, comes in stark contrast to earlier plans.
In the summer of 2011, the consortium revealed that it had hired a consulting firm to create a new brand for the city. The firm, the Cundari Group, unveiled three potential logos and slogans to replace "Rising Star" — one focusing on Hartford's history, another on the memories made in the city and a third centering on events. The consortium solicited public feedback on the ideas and said it would begin a fundraising effort, looking to the state, city and private companies for contributions.
But in May 2012, members said they would wait to see what the state rolled out as its new tourism and marketing campaign, with the possibility of tying the two efforts together. They also said the enthusiasm for raising a lot of money to support a campaign effort had evaporated.
On Thursday, the group settled on "Hartford Has It."
Griebel said the decision came after members received lukewarm feedback to the earlier branding choices.
In addition to the three campaign options pitched by the Cundari Group, a New York ad agency hired by the state had at one point proposed using the slogan "Capitalize" for Hartford's branding. The idea didn't catch on.
"Hartford Has It," Griebel said, "is straightforward. You don't have to try to figure out what it means. It lends itself to incorporation by any entity, whether it's a business, a restaurant or arts and cultural organization."
The banners already hung feature a range of city activities — "Hartford Has It — Fun," "Hartford Has It — Music," "Hartford Has It — Food," and "Hartford Has It — Style." The banners include pictures of farmer's markets, pastries from a South End bakery or The Bushnell Center for Performing Arts.
"It's a message that inspires pride and solidifies the way we feel about ourselves," said Polon, who originally came up with the slogan as part of the business improvement district's banner program. "It's simple and truthful."
Griebel said the message is also meant to associate people with being in the city, not only with city events.
"I think the beauty of 'Hartford Has It' is getting people to see themselves as being in Hartford, not just as 'I'm going to The Bushnell' or 'I'm going to Trumbull Kitchen,' " he said. "People don't always associate an event with being in the city. Our idea is to create that link in people's minds."
The consortium is in the process of setting up public meetings in the neighborhoods to learn how "Hartford Has It" can represent the various businesses, organizations and individuals there, Polon said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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