The Blade published three Letters to the Editor about the regional branding efforts on January 8, 2014. This was in response to a news article, an editorial, and a commentary in December.
The responses provide diverse and sometimes conflicting points-of-view, which is common for a complex issue.
- One writer says to include “the natives” (people born, raised and have always lived in the region) in the branding effort. They are considered the “toughest audience.” I suppose this person would support “Toledo Pride” efforts, things to get the natives feeling good about the region.
- Another writer says the brand is based on how local organizations act (such as local governments), not on “Toledo Pride” types of efforts.
- The third letter reinforces the “brand is determined by the political environment” sentiment.
I agree with some of this. The brand is determined by the experiences people have with people and organizations of the region. If the branding efforts includes telling less-than-genuine stories, and people’s experiences do not match those stories, then the effort is a failure. But the regional branding efforts I am aware of are more about amplifying and encouraging more positive stories from the region to help balance the negative ones. No “false image” building is happening.
The other key aspect is the regionalness. Two letter writers are focused on the city of Toledo, which is an important part of the region, for sure. But the region is bigger than the city, and I believe when you communicate the value of all of the region’s assets, then you can overcome some of the shortcomings of any 1 part of the region. The world thinks of us as a region, and the better we can think of ourselves as one, and act as one, then the better off we will be.