Top Ten Rejected Mottos for Colorado Springs: Live it Up!

10.Higher than Denver (oops, people might think we have more MMJ per square mile, too)

9. Unparalleled Command and Control!

Apparently, the newest civic embarrassment is the $111,000 spent on the city’s new branded logo and motto: Live it Up!

The popular consensus seems to be that the logo reminds people of a softball team sponsored by either an ambitious dentist or perhaps a Dairy Queen competitor. In fact, do a tour of social media today, and what you’ll find is an ever-increasing degree of bile and one-up-man-ship as people try to come up with new ways of describing how much they DISLIKE both the logo and the video.

8. Worship 6025′!

7. Worship 14,110′!

The message here is pretty clear: you need to align your brand with your product; therefore, branding only works when you know what your product is. Considering that this was commissioned by the Convention and Tourism Bureau, it’s not that surprising to see a lot of imagery about the outdoors, specifically Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. But from my editorial perspective, what is unbelievably distressing is that the CVB also thought that this would work for creating jobs and appealing to younger professionals. If that’s the audience, how pray-tell does this video appeal to them?

6. Drive To, Over and Through Us!

5. AEROSPACE! Hell, Yeah!

The arts and culture are reduced to sloganeering cheerleaders and exactly 1 second and two images out of almost four minutes.  Most “average citizen” shots appear contrived and forced and possibly done on a single take. There is a single image of the Air Force Academy, and it appears randomly disassociated from everything else. Poor Ralph Routen, editor of the Indy is reduced to talking about driving to the top of Pike’s Peak. Colorado College and UCCS do not make a single appearance in the video. Nor does The Old North End. But there is a guy holding a generic cup of coffee on Canon Ave. complimenting Colorado Springs… except Canon Ave. is in Manitou.

4. Right next door to Manitou!

What’s really missing? A narrative. A story. Check this out:

Downtown COS Highlight Video from Timothy Dumais on Vimeo.

Which one instills civic pride? Which one shows a wide-variety of reasons to visit, maybe even plan a weekend or vacation around? Which one looks welcoming?

Why is narrative important? It engages the audience. Showing is better than telling. It makes it easy to remember. Narrative is worth talking about. Narrative is Benefit, not Feature-Driven. The CVB video spends a great deal of time telling the audience what to think about Colorado Springs, and a lot of them border on hyperbole. No one trusts hyperbole. The Downtown Development Authority’s video shows the audience downtown, and engages them with visual images that are more easily communicated as factual, not someone’s particular opinion.

3. Only 50 minutes from Park Meadows!

2. Come Get Your Monies Worth!

There is a standard that a Vimeo “film” needs to have a much higher production quality than a Youtube “video”. But considering that the Downtown Development video was made for a fraction of the cost and has a considerably higher production quality, the question quickly becomes: “if we’re actually any good, why not make a film?”

1. Like Tulsa, But Different.

Right now on Facebook, Hannah and I are taking a poll as to what people say. It’s terribly scientific in the way that all social media is, responses are volunteered and once critical mass of an opinion’s direction is determined, you’re not likely going to see any variance from that opinion. But look at the reaction to this on The Gazette (90% dislike at this writing), The CSBJ (24-0 dislike right now), and The CSIndy (5-0) and you have to wonder who the committee was that screened this production. Look at the voting on Youtube, where there are Zero Likes, and Nine Dislikes, and only mocking comments.

The reality of the city is much better demonstrated in the Downtown Colorado Springs. When Chris Carmichael talks about the Pro Cycling Challenge, the images anchor his words. When he mentions collaborative efforts by the city, organizations, individuals and businesses, you can see the reality.

What speaks loudest in the CVB video are the people chosen to participate. The video is much more about people speaking and their opinions then it is about the city. But the CVB is supposed to be about creating tourism, conventions, visitors and jobs. It is highly unlikely any of the people in the video would be visited personally or hired for an event. That’s not a ding on the people at all. That’s a strategic problem with the video and the company that created it completely missed the angle of branding.

The Downtown Colorado Springs film uses far more elegant images, cinematography, transitions, modern music… but also captures the product, Colorado Springs. The images are exclusive to downtown. They show people enjoying themselves out and about. Again, back to some scientific polling, but I showed my 8 year old and my twin five year olds both videos. My kids walked away disinterested from the CVB. They came back for the Downtown Colorado Springs film, and what got them excited? Everything. They know Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak first hand. But the Pikes Peak Center? That gets them excited because they’ve seen the symphony there. The rodeo parade is just fun. “There’s Poor Richard’s, brothers!” yelled Andrew. One is someone’s else’s idea of whatever everyone else ought to like. The other is turn-key door opening, a “let me show you…” with a grin.

Successful marketing needs a hook and a narrative. I’m sorry if this post offends, but I’m offended that the city decided to make a video and not a film, to provide opinions rather than show facts, to shout rather than show. As citizens, we deserve better. We’re worth a film. I can show you an example…

2 responses to “Top Ten Rejected Mottos for Colorado Springs: Live it Up!

  1. Ben thanks for a good laugh. You have it right on! I don’t care about hyperbolic words with no context. Story is everything. As far as the logo goes it should beautiful and evocative so that it draws you into the story of the community.

  2. Great Blog Ben – and right on target! Maybe the city should offer you a job.

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