I only heard 1 reference to the Toledo Region branding efforts on the first full day of the Five Lakes Global Economic Forum. I could have missed others: I did not attend every session.
Paul Zito included 3 web sites at the end of his talk about the differences in doing business in the US:
- rgp.org, the main site for the Regional Growth Partnership, recently re-done
- rgpasia.org, a site I was not aware of, in Chinese and targeted at business leaders in China
I also noticed 1 speaker used the term “western Lake Erie region”, a version of the venerable “Lake Erie West” term that came about many years ago. This term helps connect the Ohio part of the region with the Michigan part. I noticed that a few maps used during the Forum had Detroit called out more than Cleveland/Columbus/Cincinnati, a subtle reminder that a lot of the region’s economy is tied to Michigan. The Property Profiles includes some Michigan land.
For the break-out sessions, I chose the Education panel, since “The Toledo Region is a great place to learn” is 1/4th of the brand system.
The session was good, but what struck me later is that it would have been better with a regional approach to presenting information. For example, the BGSU Center for International Programs and the University of Toledo Center for International Studies and Programs were both described separately, including which universities around the world each has partnerships with.
To me, it would be been better to show a single map with the BGSU & UT partnerships combined (and including other universities in the region as well), to show that the REGION is connected to other universities around the world. Harder to do, for sure, but I think it tells the regional story better.
Today, I am only planning on participating in a few of the forum activities. I have other things to do and the main part of the day are tours around the region for our visitors.
I did a pass through the “printed material” for the Five Lakes Global Economic Forum, looking for ways that the Toledo Region Branding was utilized. In general, not much.
- In the PDF Flyer, available before the event, the objective mentions ‘new manufacturing economy’ and at the bottom of the document it points people to the web site, sort of (“Visit www.toledoregion to learn more about N.W. Ohio “) – the .com is missing from www.toledoregion.com.
- In the Program Guide, the Mayor’s welcome message keeps a regional focus and mentions the 3 parts of the brand system that matter in this context: great place to do business, strong educational system and high quality of life. Also, the Destination Toledo advertisement includes their “Live. Learn. Work. Play.” tagline.
- The Property Profiles includes a half-page section “For More Information on the Toledo Region Please contact:” with a list of sites to visit. toledoregion.com is last on the list.
I missed the Monday night opening reception, but am at the Tuesday morning welcoming addresses.
I will be participating in the Five Lakes Global Economic Forum, September 24-26, 2012. I hope to:
- Meet visitors from around the world who are interested in investing in the region. They are one of the key Toledo Region branding audiences, “regional entrepreneurs” – from outside the region. I suspect some will be potential “capital investors” but most should be looking to operate their businesses from this area. How will the Toledo Region brand appeal to them?
- Hang out with the economic development and business leaders from within the region who are there to meet with the visitors. How will they utilize the brand system?
In essence, this is a great chance to do user research about the brand system. I am not sure what I will learn – that is the whole point.
Also, I plan on using #5LGEF as the Twitter hashtag for highlights during the event. I am not sure if anyone else will be tweeting or not. I will be tweeting mostly from @TRExPlan.