Thursday, June 24th, 2010
Last Friday I posted a link to and a sample of Eric Fischer’s locals vs. tourists maps of geotagged photos. If you missed it, here’s another sample, this one of Chicago:
Someone posted a comment that Fischer was from Indianapolis, and this got me thinking a bit. I can’t confirm where Fischer is from. He doesn’t seem to list it anywhere that is easy to find. I’m guessing most people would probably assume San Francisco, since virtually all of the people who wrote about this project linked the same San Francisco map. We’re lazy like that.
This is a bit of an opportunity lost for Indy or wherever Fischer is from. A lot of people’s positive perception of a city’s brand is based on the cool things that happen there or are based there. Some of those cool things can be buildings, events, natural amenities and so on. But many of them are things done by people, often easily identifiable people. This image series that went viral is a small but interesting example.
It made me think immediately of a straightforward extension of Brand Territory Matrix.
Instead of cities thinking about how they can link corporate brands to their place, or leverage the intersection thereof, we can also think about personal brands in the same way.
Think about Chicago. Its image as a city is tightly linked with various people who are associated with it. Most famous of all, particularly overseas, is Al Capone of course. But you can also think about Michael Jordan or Oprah. The latter is particularly of interest. Oprah’s show isn’t really Chicago inspired, but she’s known for being in Chicago (for now, at least). Thus some of her popularity and positive image burnishes the city brand. Or think about all those celebrity chefs on Food Network. Or all those architects designing buildings around the world like the Burj Dubai. Or the indie musicians who make Chicago’s scene one of the world’s most respected. Consciously or not, clearly all of those people are ambassadors for Chicago’s civic brand.
It strikes me that as with corporate brands, cities should do a market scan of their town and build an inventory people there like Fischer who are doing really cool stuff. Then you try your best to promote them, following the principle of “first do no harm” of course, and also encourage them to associate themselves with the city in some way, so that people at least know where they are from. Then if something cool like these maps goes viral, the city can pick up a bit of cred along the way. Most cities have lists of all the famous people who are originally from there. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were equally or more so focused on those who are still around that are doing cool stuff today? Done right, and in a non-heavy handed way, this could potentially be a win-win.