Branding Columbus? New Gahania brands, too, albeit with the dullest of bright shiny objects.


In a moment, Aaron M. Renn is going to comment on branding challenges in the context of two cities, both called Columbus, but first a digression.

Whether or not “branding” in this context is desirable or even necessary for New Albany is a topic we can discuss at a later date. For the moment, let’s accept that it is, at least to some extent.

So far we’re not branding — and yet we are, just the same.

The last time a comprehensive civic “branding” campaign was proposed hereabouts was 2011, when King England III reigned. The comprehensively horrendous “Come to City” proposal was botched so thoroughly by Team England and Develop New Albany that perhaps it’s understandable no one wants to be seen touching the branding notion again.

The Gahan regime has tossed out several half-baked marketing ideas, “where you want to be,” HarvestHomeComingStan and the more recent hashtag #OurNA among them, but there is no mistaking these scattershot placeholders for a coherent, unified municipal branding campaign.

However, stealth branding is another matter.

Sadly, as David Duggins always insisted, our proliferation of mud-stuck anchors, currently affixed to every city-owned object without the good sense to duck, is in fact our brand.

In short, here we are, anchored in place — without the approval of a single, solitary elected official save Jeff Gahan himself.

Furthermore, both Gahan and his chosen cudgel, Develop New Albany, largely have substituted themselves and their self-branding schemes for an organized campaign in the larger civic sense.

In this, we’re getting exactly what we’re paying for … good and hard.

Since Gahan took office in 2012, there has been no substantive public dialogue about any topic pertaining to branding. Six years later, we have anchors galore and Gahan “presenting” everything from the daily rising of the sun to concerts he didn’t himself finance.

Gahan’s cult of personality is so surreal that NAC‘s satire can’t come close to keeping up with it.

Columbus, Indiana has world-renowned architecture as its brand. New Albany has a tarnished, tinpot, quasi-Third World-bureaucrat’s face, wrapped around an anchor embracing all the wrong metaphors.

Well, I suppose it worked for Alfredo Stroessner — and Trumpolini, too.

The Columbus, Ohio Branding Problem Illustrated, by Aaron Renn (Urbanophile)

If you want to get a sense of the branding challenge facing Columbus, Ohio, consider this:

This weekend in Columbus, Ohio people will be watching a film called “Columbus” that is set in Columbus…..Indiana.

People don’t like it when I point out that internationally, more people are probably familiar with Columbus, Indiana (pop 46,850 in a metro of 81,402) than Columbus, Ohio (pop 860,090 in a metro of over two million).

And this:

Or, as one local talked about in a recent article about the identity of the city, you have to put a flag in the ground – a really, really good flag – and make your stand.

Obviously this takes time. These recent Columbus, Indiana items were built on the architectural legacy from long ago. But you have to start somewhere.