Cincinnati: A Tale of Two Brands

For a city that has so much to be proud of, Cincinnati and her citizens seem to have something of a self image problem. For all the positives going on around town, many feel it’s easier to focus on the negative. This poses a problem as the city and the people in it work to establish a seat at the table among other world class cities. Despite the Queen City’s history, heritage, architecture, development, and sense of place, the question remains: How does the rest of the world see us?

Though the jury is out on how recent reality TV series is affecting our image, Councilmember Laure Quinlivan has made Cincinnati’s brand image one of her priorities. At a recent Quality of Life committee meeting, Councilmember Quinlivan focused on the topic, bringing in professionals from regional and local tourisim and economic development groups to discuss the current image that Cincinnati has established for itself.

“Cincinnati used to be known for Reds owner Marge Schott, and then racial troubles, and now we’re known for… what exactly? I’m curious to know what people across the country think of when they think of Cincinnati, and look forward to hearing from the people whose job it is to know,” says Quinlivan.

She requested four different groups who market Cincinnati’s image to present to the committee members. The key focus of groups like Cincinnati USA, HYPE Cincinnati, and the city’s economic development office is to market Cincinnati as a great place to live, work and play across the board – not just “Young Professionals,” but to visitors and potential conventions.

The various groups have been working tirelessly to promote the city’s image all over, in order to bring in people who might not have considered the city otherwise. They have pulled data both from visitors and residents, to determine who is coming in to the region and why they are staying. “The image that we’re promoting (for Cincinnati) is that this is a good place to do business. Businesses want to see numbers – we have shown the companies that are here, the revenues, the tax info, demographic data,” said Patrick Ewing with the city’s Economic Development office.

The results are surprising. People are coming in to visit from all over the country. Not only cities nearby, like Indianapolis and Louisville, but others farther away, in Charleston, South Carolina, Pittsburgh, Chicago and even New York City check out the Cincinnati USA website for tourism information to find out more about what’s going on around town.

According to the report he presented, 63 to 80 percent of the city’s visitors are loyal repeats, who come in, for example, to see Reds games or a festival year after year. One of the biggest new developments will be the 2012 World Choir Games, which will bring in over 20 thousand performers from over 80 countries to Cincinnati.

In 2010 the city launched as a way for potential visitors and new residents and businesses to see all the reasons to come to the city.

“One of the pieces we tried to draw out in there is that Cincinnati has a small town feel, there is a small town affordability, but with big city amenities,” said Doug Moorman, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “There are major league sports, theater, we have all five of the major art disciplines represented here. You don’t have to go to Chicago or New York – you can be in Cincinnati and have those big city amenities but also afford to indulge in them.”

These groups, along with others in the city, are working to overcome the negative voices and embrace the Queen City for what she really is – world class.

Cincinnati skyline photograph by UrbanCincy contributor Thadd Fiala.

  • Neil

    Cincinnati’s biggest problem is not aiming high enough. The city should totally sell itself as the Boston of the midwest, a charmingly historic town that has a rich history and architecture.

    Of course they’d need to work on the nasty habit of destroying that architecture first.

  • Adam

    excellent post! the only thing that irks me is this label “world class.” it is overused around the country to the point of meaninglessness. cincinnati needs to focus. don’t look at portland and try to be like that. don’t look at nashville and try to be like that. be like cincinnati. let’s look at a key asset, something that is better than portland or LA or columbus or pittsburgh — architecture. to someone with refined taste in architecture or even just a passing hobby – places like the west end, OTR, and price hill are absolute treasures – the kind of places that don’t exist anywhere else. unfortunately, the people in charge are more like bankers and real estate developers – they just don’t “get it” and to them improvement is a new cul-de-sac with vinyl boxes in the middle of the city.

    IF we could get our historic act together and put some money towards historic conservation and getting people to move into the city to restore / renovate old properties and organize some tourism on this premise, we would have IMMEDIATELY something that is available NOWHERE else in the country.

  • Robert Croswell

    A neat idea, Neil–The Boston of the midwest–that would sure suggest a lot about this wonderful city! Another blogger on the City-Data forum recently suggested “A German New Orleans,” however the image of a midwestern Boston may be more inclusive of rich cultural/technical/sporting amenities. A real concern, though, is that several revitalized, competitive cities–namely Cleveland and Pittsburgh–see themselves in the same light. Unfortunately, both cities are formidable opponents, so what can we do to not only distinguish ourselves from them, but come out on top!?

  • Adam

    to continue — the guy from the chamber says, look we have art and sports just like new york but it’s cheaper, so come here. that message might kind of work when trying to convince people with a job offer to make the move to cincinnati, but it isn’t enough. it is like trying to take the market by storm by offering a knock-off dyson vacuum. “it’s just as good but it’s cheap!” it won’t matter even if it is as good because it isn’t a dyson. but it isn’t enough to just EQUAL someplace else – we have to focus on where we EXCEED other places. and we aren’t going to find it looking at sports teams and off-broadway plays.

  • When I travel around the country (and every so often, world) I tell people all about Cincinnati. No matter where I go people are amazed at the city’s rich history, historic architecture and cultural assets. While Cincinnati is a relatively small city, it boasts the assets of a city much larger.

    I think selling the city as a cheaper version of anywhere is a bad idea as it puts the idea in people’s minds that it is a “cheap” place, and that is something I am not sure we want to do. At the same time, we need to do a better job defining Cincinnati by its well-preserved culture based on a significant past. German immigrants, beer brewers, first of everything west of the Appalachian Mountains, in tact urban neighborhoods similar to those only found on the Northeast (Boston, New York, Philly, DC), and a historical urban environment that has set the city up for success in a 21st century economy focused on the social capital that cities have proven to generate.

    So what is Cincinnati’s brand? It’s a city with one of the richest histories of anywhere in America, and a history that defined the movement of people from the East Coast to the great western frontier. A history that defined the movement of people and goods from our interior waterways to our nation’s network of railroads. A history that highlights the end of the great European migration to America. And all of this history is still noticable in Cincinnati today, and has set the stage for the city to have a very successful future. The question is, for outsiders and locals alike, do you want to be a part of this future?

  • Neil

    “to continue — the guy from the chamber says, look we have art and sports just like new york but it’s cheaper, so come here.

    New York is too high to aim for, and shows this odd cultural quirk where Cincinnatians still compare themselves to New York City, even though Cincy hasn’t been in the same league as NYC since the 1860s! Btw, most New Yorkers don’t even know where Cincinnati is anymore, just tell a New Yorker that your I’m from the Cincinnati region, and I’ll guarantee it you’ll get the response: “oh the mistake on the lake!).”

    Boston works even better, because the city used to have a conservative image (look up “banned in Boston”) and managed to shed it. Pittsburgh and Cleveland don’t have nearly as rich or as old a history as a commerce and business center, both were mainly Industrial Centers, with commerce playing second fiddle. I don’t feel that there are as many parallels between Pittsburgh and Cleveland with Boston as there are with Cincinnati.

  • Adam

    and to belabor – robert, good point about competing with pittsburgh and cleveland. it is a good start that from a historical perspective, our architecture is more rare, more unusual. the basic reason is that we boomed in the mid 1800s, a good 50 years before our Midwestern contemporaries except for st louis, which boomed at the same time. so in terms of classic and early victorian architecture, our closest “competitors” are quite far away.

  • Neil

    I also want to add that I’m not suggesting Cincy as a cheap Boston, I’m just suggesting it as a Midwest equivalent, like Chicago is the Midwest equivalent to New York. Chicago may not be as big as New York, but it has a similar cosmopolitan vibe in its own unique Midwestern sense.

  • Adam

    neil – you’re right, although we can’t take so blame for new yorkers’ pridely willful geographic ignorance. “Cincinnati” like “Cleveland” but not “Columbus” is a city that can be said without the state, and this is according to the AP, not me.

  • I think it is a bad idea to solely compare Cincinnati to other domestic cities. Pittsburgh and St. Louis, sure. But outside of that I’m not sure where the gain is.

    This is a global marketplace now, and it would seem more beneficial to compete with cities like Dusseldorf, Liverpool or Seville than it would New York, Boston or Chicago. Where does Cincinnati stand when compared to similarly sized emerging markets in Asia and South America? If we don’t have the answers to these questions, then how can we expect to compete in a global marketplace?

  • Neil

    Good point Randy today is a global world, and Cincinnatians more than most people given their insular “I don’t know anything beyond Mason/West Chester” mentality should be looking around the world. One of the cool things I’ve noticed in Chicago is that when they do studies they compare themselves to places like Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna etc. A lot of Chicagoans who complain about their really good for the US transit, are implicitly comparing themselves to Europe and Asia. There really needs to be more of that down in Cincy.

    For a Global example, Bilbao Spain isn’t too far off (though it probably is a bit more like Pittsburgh given the sheer amount of industry and access to mountain resources). Both are very hilly cities with unique local cultures (though the Basques go way beyond the large German influences) that industrialized early and are regional centers. Both of them have seen better days, though Bilbao really aggressively worked to shed its worn image and managed to attract a lot of attention to itself, even managed to win having a James Bond film set in it. Its this kind of attention that Cincy really needs.

    If Cincy had preserved more of its “basin area” and kept the subway, the feel would be a lot closer. I remember seeing large mansions on top of the hills with classical European apartment rows below when I was there in Middle School, and when I dug deeper into Cincy’s history at an older age, I couldn’t help but think of Bilbao.

  • D R E W

    “One of the pieces we tried to draw out in there is that Cincinnati has a small town feel, there is a small town affordability, but with big city amenities,”

    this is tiring and used by too many other similar cities. find something else that’s truly unique about cincinnati.

  • I think that LQ and co would love this input – it’s clear they are not thinking big enough when it comes to marketing Cincinnati and its potential.

    In reading the transcript of the meeting (I wasn’t able to attend) it was easy to see that the intention and effort was there, but the marketing vision needs to be expanded in a big way – striving towards the bottom line and “affordability” aspect is definitely not going to cut it any more.

    However, to your point D R E W…. and this is coming from a small town girl… I definitely agree with the small town aspect of this city – mostly because of all the neighborhoods. Cliche, yes, but also true. It needs to be reworded, but you can’t ignore that factor.

  • Neil

    “However, to your point D R E W…. and this is coming from a small town girl… I definitely agree with the small town aspect of this city – mostly because of all the neighborhoods. Cliche, yes, but also true. It needs to be reworded, but you can’t ignore that factor.”

    “Small town” should probably be replaced by close knit unique communities all interconnected to form a cohesive whole.

    Its sad that more ideas are coming from here than the people who are supposed to be leading in this area…

  • Robert Croswell

    Ideally, as both Randy and Neil have mentioned, our focus must include European, Asian, and South American cities–never forgetting that we compete with them. But how to sensitize a local public whose biggest thrill is an Elder/St.X fb game, rather than witnessing a Stuttgart or Mumbai corporation moving 500 jobs to Blue Ash. Or a larger public that persists in seeing us as nothing more than Reds, riots, cops, WKRP, and Kings Island? With ample justification, Pittsburgh is often referred to as “The Midwestern Athens.” So what are we? Thankfully, many ideas (leading to many creative trains-of-thought) have already emerged here.

  • Neil

    To be honest, Pittsburgh is being overhyped. Its only getting the attention its getting now because Richard Florida is from there and he’s the “in” guy urbanist circles.

  • I agree with most everyone’s comments. I think the City needs to be careful not to overly hype its past as we still need an image that is current and forward thinking. Ultimately, Cincinnati’s brand needs to balance its charming, unique past with a forward thinking, 21st century future. Finding that balance is difficult but crucial.

  • As far as attracting businesses here, the city needs to be thoughtful in its marketing messages to businesses. One thing that has stuck with me about Cincinnati was listening last year to a panel of people in the area who are in venture capital or started a high tech business. One of the panel members said one of the reasons he liked the area so much was that it was “comfortable.” I don’t think there are many words that would lead a high tech, entrepreneurial company away from an area more than “comfortable.” A Fortune 500 company might like that (which may explain why the area has so many of them) but comfort doesn’t exactly inspire change and innovation. Also, maybe its just me, but when I think of the cities that are movers and shakers around the world, “comfortable” is rarely a word to describe the atmosphere. However, I do think it is an accurate term. I’m not sure whether the area should embrace its comfort, since it seems to lead to things not changing, but it does have its appeal.

    I think Cincinnati can stand to gain from embracing the “cooler” part of our history, especially the brewing part. That could really lead to Cincy being a “German New Orleans.” In my daydreams, Cincinnati is home to the first brewery business incubator… …perhaps “comfortable” can inspire certain types of innovation.

    And good or bad for the city, Policewomen of Cincinnati makes Thursday my favorite day of the week.

  • Ryan L

    Eric – I agree completely with your ideas, though I think there is something to be said for comfortable. I don’t think Cincinnati should be known as a “comfortable” city; it should be known for its brewing heritage. However, if you want people to move to Cincinnati that don’t necessarily want to live in a city that can be fast paced and exciting, the suburbs of Cincinnati are perfect for the comfortable feel.

    A vibrant urban core with a very comfortable suburban layer around it would make Cincinnati the best of both worlds. Those who wish to live in an exciting place with a rich history could live in the neighborhoods in the core (CBD, OTR, CUF, Mt. Adams, Clifton, etc) while those who wish to live in a comfortable area with quiet streets could live in Hyde Park, Oakley, and outlying cities (like Madeira, Loveland, Mason, etc). I don’t think that we should shun the suburbs for providing a comfortable place for people to live, I think the city should embrace its potential, really start to thrive, and incorporate the suburbs in an overall vision as an exciting place with a quiet side to it too. Not everyone wants to live in New York City, just as not everyone wants to live in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

    Perhaps if Cincinnati continues to innovate and progress like it seems to be doing, the city could become a vibrant place young people look to for excitement, while also offering a quiet place for people to settle down. I think the suburbs of Cincinnati are already “comfortable”, but the city needs to focus on something (brewing would be nice) to distinguish itself and create a truly vibrant urban core that other cities truly idolize (like many do with Chicago, Portland, New York, etc).

    Though it is kind of wishful thinking, it would also be nice if Cincinnati were known for sustainability as well as brewing. Cincinnati does have a lot of LEED accredited buildings (especially schools) and LEED AP’s. Unfortunately Ohio and Cincinnati are not really known for sustainability and often seen as the opposite today. I hope Cincinnati will focus on its brewing history and architecture while using sustainability as a development tool to encourage both.

  • Ron Tunning

    If Cincinnati is to change it must first learn not only to embrace diversity, but to welcome it. It’s colleges and universities should be actively pursuing International students and devoting more effort to becoming real, world-class research centers.

    Boston has M.I.T. and Harvard, the Bay Area has Stanford and U.C. Berkeley. The quality and accessibility of the city’s institutions of higher learning must be strengthened.

    I’ve always loved Cincinnati for its sheer physical beauty, both natural and architectural. Its skyline is a virtual, if miniature study in the history of modern American architecture, from the old Union Central Life Tower (Fourth & Vine Tower) to the Carew Tower, the Federated Building, P. & G.’s Headquarters, the Terrace Hotel, and even City Hall.

    The focus should not be on attempting to lure Fortune 500 companies, but rather, to creating an environment in which the next Fortune 500 company can be created and fostered. This requires a strong public-private partnership, and inevitably a huge public investment. Ever noticed how our most dynamic cities also have among the highest tax rates in the country? There is a cost to being among the best. Imagine, if you can, Bilbao’s Guggenheim replacing the I.R.S. Center on Covington’s riverfront, or Over-the-Rhine becoming the midwest’s S.O.H.O.

    Want to reach out to Germans, or the Chinese? Learn to speak their language. Instead of complaining when Spanish is offered as an option on customer service lines, be proud of that option.

  • Aaron

    Just some stats about the University of Cincinnati to prove that Cincinnati indeed does already posses a world class institution of higher learning that attracts students from all over the world.

    Cooperative education, 4th in the U.S.
    Opera/Voice, 3rd in the U.S
    Interior Design, 1st in the U.S.
    Musical Conducting, 5th in the U.S.
    Music, 6th in the U.S.
    Industrial Design, 2nd in the U.S.
    Music Composition, 9th in the U.S.
    Orchestra/Symphony, 9th in the U.S.
    Paleontology, 6th in the U.S.
    Environmental Engineering, 20th in the U.S.
    Criminal Justice, 3rd in the U.S.
    Pediatrics, 3rd in the U.S.
    Nursing, Anesthesia, 11th in the U.S.
    Otolaryngology, 18th in the U.S.

  • Ron Tunning

    Aaron, I will grant you that the College Conservatory of Music and D.A.A.P. are outstanding colleges. I’m not sure, however, that ranking 11th, 18th or 20th in the U.S. qualifies as world class. Nor am I at all convinced that Cooperative Education is a field of study that’s going to attract the brightest minds from China or India, much less the U.S.

    As a matter of interest, U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Cincinnati 156th among Tier 1 national universities in the U.S., hardly something to write home about. ( )

    There’s a tendency in Cincinnati to believe its own P.R. rather than focus on the reality. U.C. is no Harvard. It is no M.I.T. It is not Stanford, or Princeton, or Duke. Not even close.

    I’d love to see statistics on how many International students are attending the University of Cincinnati along with how they compare academically to International students attending the aforementioned schools.

    Do yourself a favor and don’t delude yourself. U.C. is what it is – a public university aspiring to become a major research facility. But that is going to require an enormous investment and endowment.

  • Ryan L

    UC’s engineering department is well respected. They may not have the funding the California schools receive or the prestige of MIT, but they are making important discoveries that can change things that we use every day. Unfortunately I don’t think that these get much publicity, while anything MIT does makes it to the local news. We need a much better funding source and better P.R. to advertise the University throughout the nation, not just locally.

    I also think that ranking 11th in Nursing, Anesthesia is very good. Nursing is one of the most needed careers. Noting that we are top ten in 11 different categories is pretty good. I know you may think that having one of the most beautiful campuses isn’t important, but I do think it is important. It may not make us “world class” on its own, but it gives the University of Cincinnati good publicity.

    And the co-op program at UC is why I (and many people out of state I know in engineering) attended UC.

  • Zack

    Why the need to focus on just one “brand”? While New York, to many midwesterners or southerners, is “Times Square and the Today show”, its different to everyone there. It has the tourist stuff, but its business to alot of us, its music to alot of folks, its hipsters to others.

    While I appreciate and enjoy the brewing history, Im not so sure thats the label the city should strive for. Denver has fantastic craft beers, but only craft beer drinkers know that.

    I don’t have any better ideas. But I am a fan of getting UC more initiated into the happenings of the city, along with Xavier, NKU, etc…

  • Zack

    Good article BTW

  • Neil

    ^-While Columbus has some branding problems, part of what’s making it pull way above its weight in terms of amenities and urbanization (Drive down high street about once a year and every year it seems to be getting more and more urban-the mid century suburbanization is really being reversed over there), is OSU and how big a role it plays in the local culture and economy.

    Because OSU is a large school where most students live on campus, it makes High Street extremely lively, around the University (IMO pretty much on par with a good street in the north side of Chicago) and it seems that areas to the south and to the north of the university district are benefiting as well, as many students who live in Columbus are staying in Columbus and demanding more urban amenities, so they move to a nicer neighborhood of ex students nearby. If UC would have more students on campus this would really help things out- its maddening to see a city that’s mostly strip malls have a more vibrant urban core than Cincinnati does with its real urban form… 😛

  • Radarman

    If it’s true – and I think it is – that the city has all the comforts of home, and that it is and always has been open to creativity and intelligent exploration, should’t the tagline be something along the lines of “The Good Life of The Mind”?

  • Ryan L

    Is it possible that we cannot force the city to have a certain image? Maybe we just have try to make the city as great as possible through smart investments. In my opinion that includes the Streetcar, Light Rail, Tax incentives for sustainable development (like LEED), historic preservation, bike lanes, streetscapes (trees, improved lighting, art, etc.), adaptive reuse over new construction, brownfield development over greenfield development, and community involvement. I don’t know if other cities have tried to “create” an image for themselves, but I would guess that a natural evolution of identity is the best way to go.

    I do think it is great that the city is trying to put our name out there and attract possible companies/residents to the area, but I am not sure we can do it overnight and just proclaim ourselves something. The marketing for the city should showcase everything we have to offer, while not necessarily claiming we have a “theme”. I wouldn’t say, “We are a cheaper New York”, but say something like, “The architecture in Cincinnati rivals any city in the country” then as a separate point, say that the the cost of living is much lower than comparable cities, leaving the potential for expansion and innovation. Try to sell the city on the idea of the future, not necessarily the past. If we can attract new companies/industries to the area on the idea that we are a hot spot for innovation I think we could do much more. Perhaps innovation would then be a brand for Cincinnati, I don’t know. Full circle I suppose. The city needs to invest in “new” ideas to get new companies. And UC needs to be more involved in the city, I agree with Neil.

    By the way, UrbanCincy, I like the open ended articles promoting dialogue.

  • Robert Croswell

    In the case of OSU, the flat topography of Columbus may actually enhance the southward urbanization toward the city’s core. First of all, OSU is the 800-lb. gorilla that dominates so much of north central C-Bus, whereas UC resembles a smaller fiefdom atop the hills–separated from downtown. Thus, would the interaction between the UC campus and the city core be much less?

  • Robert Croswell

    Capitalizing upon our beer brewing heritage is another worthy idea, but to what extent? Once again we might find ourselves running with a lot of contenders to all-things-German. After all, not only Portland and Denver, but also St.Louis, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and even Columbus are opening their own brew pubs, and thus gaining significant marketing advantage in this war. And may I add another unprofessional opinion concerning our particular Germanic heritage–and that is that our fabled OTR beerhalls-of-yore were attractive, in part, because they were surrounded with violence, vice, and whores to an extent that might be tolerated today in Hamburg, but not in Cincinnati. Just think of the good old days in Newport, Ky. or in all those notorious cowboy towns of the American West–egads, the Citizens for Community Values would have us all for lunch, heh heh!

  • Zack

    Re: Robert Croswell:

    I may have already stated, but UC and the city getting together and trying to “connect” better would be a very very smart move. And in theory it seems almost stupid not to.

    The busride from the UC med campus to downtown is significantly shorter than from the extents of OSU’s campus.

    With so much open space, buildings, retail, HOUSING downtown, I really think UC should consider expanding into CBD. At least buy up a building, convert it into housing, try to develop a relationship with volunteering or civil service in exchange for lower rent, and let some students live downtown (hint: some already are). As soon as someone gets used to a 7 minuted bus (and soon streetcar) ride to CBD, living and/or playing there will make perfect sense.

  • Leif

    Before we think about “Branding” we need to have content.

  • Ryan L

    Zack: I am actually started a group devoted to historic preservation at UC. I have considered buying a building in OTR or CBD (after significant fund raising or getting University support [though UC funding is getting tighter with the decrease in state funding]), fixing it up, and then using it as UC affiliated housing. If you have any ideas or would like to come to our meetings (we are not an officially recognized group yet at UC) let me know. My email is below. Even if you are not a student, your input would still be appreciated and you are welcome to attend the meetings. This is a long term goal of mine, though (perhaps even after I graduate, as I only have two more years).

    ryanlammi at gmail dot com

  • There is a follow up meeting at noon on February 15th at City Hall discussing Cincinnati’s branding more. If you are interested, please make the time to come down and give your input. This has been an incredible discussion, and it’s important that our leaders are listening.

  • Robert Croswell

    Leif, I would appreciate an elaboration upon “content” because it may extend what Ryan L. has said about “natural evolution of identity.” Needless to say, both of you have ventured into a complex and troublesome concern — namely, how/when to implement multiple improvements that will lead to viable branding. Just about all of us would agree that no quick solution is in order, even though we secretly beg for one.


    Love this site.

    How does the world see us?

    Well, there seems to be two broad worlds: Business and Citizenry.

    Perhaps this distinction can help with defining what “content” is available.

    Generally, this site focuses on the ‘Citizenry’ concern, what the people want and need from Cincinnati. Business plays a role in accommodating this concern.

    In terms of content for Citizens, I think there have been lot’s of improvements, all of which have been regaled on this site, simply keep scrolling through the archives. The least of them are not The Banks and the Casino – hopefully the Streetcar – The Stadiums, Museum, Fountain Square, and the cool “Claw” apartment building in KY.

    Still, what is this content for the outside Citizenry and how can it be branded? The national ethos for Cincinnati, from my perspective, goes something like:

    ‘Queen City’ moniker
    College sports
    Cincinnati chili
    Riverboat town – river imagery
    Midwestern city

    Perhaps a cringe-worthy list for some here wishing to expand the definition of Cincinnati. I’ll admit my bias towards sports influences this list. These are the depictions of Cincinnati you see during half time, or in and out of commercial breaks. They are meant to be the best look into your city.

    This advertising is basically why people wanted to keep the Reds and Bengals – on the riverfront no less. Just the other day, the pet shop owner in Seattle I go to chatted me up for 20 minutes about Cincinnati Chili, so what has reached the outside Citizenry is somewhat powerful.

    In terms of ‘content’, I think the above list shows that FOOD and SPORTS are built right in and ready to be packaged for delivery across the world – but improvement is needed.

    I’ve often told people, very seriously yet with a wry smile, that the hope and dreams of Cincinnati and it’s people are in some ways squarely on Jay Bruce and Joey Votto’s shoulders. What a perennial contender could do for Cincinnati is amazing. It’s essentially the crux of the investment on the river. It’s an interesting angle, at least. The Bengals are part of the package as well. You get the point. These are huge companies that can potentially explode in popularity, meanwhile energizing the people and image of the city.

    As for FOOD, you may never get beyond the chili export, which is fine. Has New Orleans offered more in the minds of your average guy than “Cajun”? Philly offered more than “Cheesesteak”? Chicago offered more than “Deep Dish”? So, chili isn’t a weakness, it’s just ‘content’ that is ready for perhaps more improvement, like the sports. Shoot, host the World Chili Contest. Face off with other chili cities. I don’t know. Just be great at something the world knows about and it will be your benefit.

    What about all the improvements we talk about on here, like FS, The Banks, Casino, Streetcar, etc? Can that ‘content’ itself be branded? I don’t think so as much. Not unless we’re talking about an iconic structure like the Space Needle, Gateway Arch, Sears Tower, (which I’m for that kind of stuff 100%). However, collectively if Cincinnati is known for continued development, growth and innovation, that reputation will carry for a long time, especially in the Business world, which is the very important other world we’re talking about. Eventually, your city will be filled with people eager to come to Cincinnati to work for a top flight company and enjoy the amenities that are in place – and that are forever on the horizon.

    Cincinnati already has a decent business climate and improving amenities. Once the economy picks back up, hopefully Cincinnati is in position to capitalize on a great wave of prosperity. Hopefully, more people show up to stay. We shall see. I think Mallory is doing an excellent job. The discussion involving UC, XU and NKU is very important. Supporting and expanding their roles will have a very beneficial impact on the future of the city. In fact, I’m hoping to hear more about what can be done to support growth in these institutions during the next elections. Not that I’ll be in town…

    Lastly, in terms of architecture, I think it’s important to keep it in perspective. It’s the wall paper, furniture, or objects of your house. It isn’t your house. And these things are not the main reasons people come to visit your house. They may be interesting the first time or two they visit, but that’s it. You are the reason people come to visit your house.

    So, in short, it’s the people that need to improve in the city, specifically the number of them, and the quality of them. If you do have nice antique furniture in your house, take care of it now and make sure it’s safe to sit in! In all, though, this is not ‘content’ that will resonate with the masses unless it improves rapidly and on a grander scale than anywhere else. Right now there is a lot of work to be done for that to happen. If it doesn’t, there is no harm in improving OTR and other similar places, and people will rightly live there and preserve it, but I don’t think it will be ‘brandable content’ for some time after other benefits have been realized by the city.