The Self-Aware CVB

If I told you I was from Ivy, then met your quizzical look by explaining “it’s half-way between Egbert and Knock” before admitting it’s about an hour outside of Toronto, you’d think I was being a bit precious.

And yet that’s exactly how a lot of regional CVBs behave when they set out to establish their own independent “destination brands” in the shadow of a larger and better known destination.  Hubris gets in the way of doing what's right and they bravely ignore the fact that what attracts people to their general whereabouts probably has a lot more to do with the reputation of the big city that shall not be named than it does with the wonderful yet comparatively less wonderful wonders of their suburb. 

So I was encouraged this week by news out of Ohio that the regional DMO’s surrounding Cleveland had joined forces to promote themselves as “Cleveland +

Rather than spraying their already-too-small budgets to the four winds, they’ve reached the inescapably logical conclusion that they’re each far better off to hitch their wagon to the star that’s already known: Cleveland.

In a moment of political weakness, perhaps exhausted by yet another round of Meetings & Incentive Travel trade shows, where their staff had met one too many conventioneers asking directions to the Cleveland booth, they finally saw the light.  And so a 16-county area in northeast Ohio formed the Greater Cleveland Marketing Alliance.

Akron, Canton, Youngtown, Alliance, Massillon, Louisville and 10 other places whose residents probably respond "I live near Cleveland" when asked will now market themselves under the collective umbrella of Cleveland +.

Chicago has made a viable sub-brand out of its Chicagoland concept and several years ago, the municipalities surrounding Kansas City made a similarly brave move in creating OneKC, a collective marketing program spanning two states, 18 counties and 50 plus cities.  The coolest part about this collective is that they formalized their commitment to a shared fate in creating a Declaration of Interdependence, establishing the vision and ground rules for their partnership.

A rising tide floats all boats, etc.

Note: We’ve re-published article as part of a series of the most popular pieces from our former blog (BrandCanadaBlog). We can’t promise all the links will work, and some of the references may be a bit dated, but we think the examples and insights are still valid.


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