Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Next Great Brand

Dunwoody's "New and Improved!" brand simply will not work. The copy-cat scandal will not go away and is likely to expand as folks begin to notice the relationship between Sky Designs and Norcross and connect the dots between Dunwoody staff and former Norcross staff. Even if there is no formal investigation, we can hope for open records requests around how the work was bid and the results vetted.

If we're lucky, we'll also get some much needed turnover at city hall and afterwards, should it still be considered a good idea, we can expect a new brand--an original brand.

Just in case, it would be good to start early, first by looking at why the plagiarized brand works so well for its rightful owners.

Plano, TX has a problem with the sound of its name: "PLAIN-oh". Hard to miss the "PLAIN" part. Plain does not conjure images of "extraordinary", "novel", "unique" or "progressive". So how does "Plano/Smart People/Smart Place" address this? First we have repetition, "SMART" people, "SMART" place reiterates the core message--"sounds" plain, but is really "smart". The consonance, "Plano"..."People"..."Place", ties all three parts together.

For Plano, this works. For Dunwoody, not so much. Outside of a screaming need for people to think we're smarter than we so obviously are, there is nothing about a "smart people, smart place" ripoff that supports Dunwoody's ambitions. But we could take a page out of Plano's playbook.

Plano used its brand to overcome a unfortunate consequence of its name, a slightly negative connotation of the very sound of it. Dunwoody has ripened its own opportunity to do the same.

Since the days of "Dunwoody Housewife Jokes", our community has not been held in high esteem. We've been laughed at for being arrogant and elitist, for being unoriginal in our homes--Dunwoody's Beige and Brick Four Four and a Door are renowned--and for the Stepford-like lives lived therein. At their best our battles with the county seem to reflect a NIMBY mindset but always carry racial overtones of lily white suburbanites bristling at a new, largely black power structure. The large number of Yankees in Dunwoody does little to counter this view, serving mostly as proof that "liberalism flourishes where it is not challenged." These transplants are viewed as even more racist than their white Southern counterparts and their current affection for "all things that shall not be forgotten" does little to help.

Dunwoody has a hard-earned reputation as a place best avoided by anyone smart or progressive and certainly by anyone of color. We are known as a place for white folks to raise white kids. While many in Dunwoody embrace that vision apparently that is not enough for others. Hence, the reputation repairing "brand".

Ironically, this brand already exists, though followers of this blog, all three of you, will be surprised to read of it here. This is a branding that speaks to the future. That speaks to being progressive, to honoring tradition without blind adulation. That speaks to citizens pulling together to create a new, better future for themselves and their children.

And what is this brand?
Dunwoody Yes!
"Yes" is a positive assertion of action, a much needed antidote to the negative image permeating our past and clouding our future. The exclamation speaks to energy, a vibrancy that counters the impression of a staid group of bow-tie wearing George Will wannabes and blue-haired ladies in Buicks. And it starts, as it should, with that which is being branded. Unlike "Ole 5K's" obvious rationalization of the puke green on his logo, the yellow of Dunwoody Yes! and the Dunwoody street sign toppers is vibrant. And consistent--linking the tradition of the farmhouse sign-toppers with the forward looking, outward facing brand.

So there you have it dear readers. We've come full circle and found that if we must purloin someone's brand, then let it be our own. How smart is that?