Tulsa World reports that the mayor of Tulsa OK is Dewey Bartlett has discovered that his city needs to develop a brand strategy. Bartlett has traveled all over the United States and recently through Great Britain, Europe and Japan, and always inquires what the locals think about when they hear "Tulsa." Not surprising he found a wide variety of responses. While some citizens are ridiculing the mayor in the articles comments, Mayor Bartlett is actually tapping into something of great importance to his and all cities – their image and reputation.
The thoughts and associations that come to mind when a city’s name is heard or read can have huge financial, political, and social value. To Mayor Bartlett’s credit, too few city leaders think about the number of jobs, businesses, and other organizations that directly benefit from their city’s image and reputation. The level of esteem that a city’s name evokes has a direct impact on the health of its tourism, economic development, prestige, and respect. Unfortunately, a city’s image and reputation often go largely unrecognized, unappreciated and unmanaged. They rarely get measured and never appear on a balance sheet or the job evaluation of a Mayor, City Manager or elected official. With so much riding on its image and reputation, it makes sense to nurture, manage, and protect these most valuable of city assets in the form of a brand strategy.
While the mayor aims to manage the process by conducting hearings in the New Year with local individuals and organizations, a true brand strategy will involve a more holistic approach. To find where Tulsa fits into the world in the 21st Century it will involve thoroughly researching the perceptions, attitudes and needs of external audiences, analyzing competitors and tracking emerging trends.
My best response to the Mayor’s question about the first thing that comes to mind when I hear, “Tulsa” is the old Gene Pitney song, “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa”. That not only shows my age, I guess it also shows that the Mayor is right in saying that it’s time for an update!