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A brand for Birmingham… it’s time to EXECUTE

7 August 2006

Everyone loves to talk about branding Birmingham. When is someone going to actually do something about it?

The Birmingham News has a cool new feature section in its “Marketplace” page of the Money section. It’s called “Point of View” and this last Sunday’s piece was titled Knowing the city key to marketing it. The author of the article, Mr. Francis Hare, is the principal at Hare Communications and runs through an academic review of what it means to create a marketing message:

  1. Know your product
  2. Identify and research your target markets
  3. Research your competition
  4. Determine the strategy
  5. Execute
  6. Make adjustments where necessary

Since you’re reading this blog, you probably already “know” the product… Birmingham as a bustling, growing, and exciting mid-sized metropolitan region. Mr. Hare thinks we ought to…

“… focus primarily on prospective residents who already work or own businesses in our fastest-growing industries and professions, secondarily on people working in related industries and professions and lastly on a broad group generally identified as desirables who could find gainful employment in Birmingham.”

TechBirmingham and the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce couldn’t agree more! Young professionals and those in the high-growth industry of technology are our target markets.

About a year ago TechBirmingham completed the first step towards such a branding campaign, getting all the way through Mr. Hare’s first 5 steps. You can read about the CHANGE campaign here. Three commercials have been produced and a corresponding print campaign was planned but remains a ‘to be done’ project. In the spirit of Mr. Hare’s ending comments stating that he’d allocate “a significant percentage” of resources “for selling Birmingham internally” we were able to get the 3 commercials to play as PSA’s on Bright House Networks’ cable stations in the Cities of Birmingham, Leeds, and Bessemer. Click on each of the images above to view the commercials as streaming video.

Around the same time, the Chamber convened a community-led effort called “cool communities task force”, which among other things had a break-out group looking at vitality of the region as it related to young professionals (attracting new ones and retaining the ones that were here already). The NUMBER ONE recommendation listed in the Executive Summary of the recommendations reads as follows:

Develop an image campaign aimed at recruiting YPs using [the] TechBirmingham “Change” campaign as a model. The “Change” campaign is targeted to the YP demographic and shows how young business men and women can be successful in Birmingham. Development of this campaign would require funding to produce similar TV spots and air them.

Politicians have weighed in on a branding campaign but none have inspired anyone to move past the 3rd or 4th steps described above. TechBirmingham has bucked the trend and got to the execution stage, but has faltered when it comes to monies to bring the campaign to market. The organization has leveraged partnerships but needs good hard cash to roll out the program in the target cities where it would have the most chance of success in impacting young professionals and their willingness to relocate to Birmingham.

Needless to say, Hare’s article talks a great talk and hopefully will inspire others to address the city’s (and region’s!!!) image and brand. I think that the TechBirmingham CHANGE campaign and a related YP CHANGE campaign would go a LONG WAY towards giving us a positive, progressive image.

Our neighbor to the east, Atlanta, used to relish in the moniker of “the city too busy to hate” (playing off Birmingham’s problems, I suppose). Maybe it’s time Birmingham earned the moniker as “the city that changes the world, one resident at a time”?!? All it takes is a little execution, your time, and some money. Anyone game to help out?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 August 2006 7:39 am

    Sign me up. Curtis. How can I help?

  2. 8 August 2006 8:47 am

    Excellent story.

    As you are no doubt aware, many of the Magic City Flickr Group photos and all of BhamWiki’s content are published under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license (Some is public domain). As long as any campaign materials met those terms, that stuff is available for use in promotions.

    My suggestion: “Birmingham: The Magic City” … you could have Vulcan say “Hey kids! watch me pull a hip urban lifestyle out of my ass!”

  3. 8 August 2006 3:29 pm

    I think that’s one of the reasons why I always refer to Birmingham as the Magic City… it’s the nickname that it had in the beginning. If it is to come back it’s simply demonstrating that the magic never left. Why reinvent something that’s already here. We just need to remember that pride goes along with any campaign. I’m in though.

  4. 11 August 2006 12:49 pm

    Hey Curtis – – –

    Not a post, just a thanks for your kind comments. Honestly, it wasn’t much more than common sense marketing—whole thing only took me about an hour and a half to write, if that.

    Anyhow, I’m really glad it resonated with you—and I’d be overwhelmed if it actually led to something good.

    My buddy Richard Thomas led me to your site. I really like your stuff. Birmingham could use a few thousand more like you.

    Thanks again for the post.

  5. Tesa Engram permalink
    24 August 2006 12:29 pm

    I am excited to see someone is concerned about retaining young professionals that already reside in Birmingham! I would love to know more about what you are doing and how I can help!




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