A Brand for Milwaukee?
The Milwaukee Common Council recently passed a resolution creating a branding task force for Milwaukee, and certainly there is a place for creating a brand for Milwaukee, but the key to creating this brand isn’t a marketing campaign, catch phrase or tag line. It is putting action and investment behind the vision, because part of building any brand, is in fact the product. Further, this branding effort shouldn’t simply be an attempt to attract tourists, but it should fit within a larger vision for Milwaukee.
I believe that larger vision should revolve around the fresh coast image and more specifically water. Many parts of this vision are still in flux, and there’s certainly no guarantee it will be successful, but creating a vision around water can be appealing to tourists, and be an economic driver for our region. Water research, use, purification and availability will play a critical factor in economic development in the future and Milwaukee should capitalize on this opportunity.
A city that seems to of, intentionally or not, followed this pattern is Portland, OR. Portland didn’t just run a marketing campaign and overnight become Bike City USA. They built bike infrastructure, held biking events, passed policy that supported biking in Portland, and continue to do so, all of which combined to create the brand. It is only when action and investment fulfills a vision will a brand stick, so hopefully Milwaukee can look at how cities such as Portland have successfully transformed themselves and follow a similar plan to make Milwaukee the world water capital.