How did this come about?
The formation of Mayor Coleman's Bicentennial Committee in 2007 proved to be the spark that ignited critical conversations about Columbus' national image – or lack thereof. It recognized the need to develop a common story of how Greater Columbus is presented to both external and internal audiences.
This need was reinforced with the launch of Columbus 2020, an aggressive economic development strategy focused on retaining and expanding existing businesses, growing new enterprises and attracting companies from around the world to the Columbus Region.
For three years, the Mayor's Bicentennial Image and Marketing Committee and the Compete Columbus Tourism, Entertainment and Arts Cluster engaged public and private organizations to define the Columbus Brand Essence, a singularly focused message that is competitively differentiating, uplifting, authentic and genuine.
Local marketing firm Ologie facilitated conversations and distilled a great amount of research – including direct input from thousands of Columbus citizens – ultimately developing a brand essence based on the ideas of "open" and "smart."
The primary stakeholders managing this initiative are the City of Columbus, the Columbus Partnership, the Columbus Chamber, Columbus 2020, Experience Columbus, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission and the Columbus Foundation.
In January 2011, in an unprecedented collaboration, the primary partner organizations hired Fahlgren Mortine as a single agency of record to take "smart + open" and bring it to life in each organization's strategic and tactical marketing and communications programs. Born directly out of the "smart + open" positioning, the ColumbUS mark was designed to reflect the city's inclusivity and togetherness through the pronouncement of the "US" within the logo. The ColumbUS logo and brand elements were immediately and heartily embraced by everyone involved.
The ColumbUS logo and brand elements were first seen by the public via 200Columbus the Bicentennial. Because the Bicentennial was designed to inspire community pride and engagement in the city's progress and increasing vitality, 2012 served not only as a launching pad for the brand work but also the delivery of a consistent Columbus story across organizations.
What does the brand essence "smart and open" mean?
Columbus is a smart and open-minded city with a progressive attitude, where people are free to go out on a limb. Where diversity isn't just a state of being, but a state of mind – made real through people, businesses and neighborhoods every day.
Because we share the philosophy that Columbus is open to all, we are always taking risks, always thinking big and always open to new ideas. Columbus is an educated community with more than 40 regional colleges and universities, as well as international brain-trusts such as Battelle and Chemical Abstracts Service and a youthful, vibrant, engaged citizenry with a median age of 35.
Why is this Project important?
There are many organizations and sectors that market our community every day. Civic organizations, the arts community, the corporate community and the many universities and medical centers in our region are just some of those whose success depends in large part on how Columbus is perceived by the nation, and even the world.
Columbus needs to effectively compete in the 21st century marketplace. The economic implications of attracting business, retaining business, hosting meetings and events, attracting top executives, educators and physicians and encouraging college graduates to remain in the area are significant. This will be the difference between thriving in the next century or, at best, staying status quo. The opportunity to express our essence and story in a consistent manner, speak with one voice and build further collaboration is immeasurable.
And there is another important benefit - that of community pride. Our citizens can become ambassadors for our community and help tell the world about Columbus. We've got a thriving creative class, an energetic young professional community, and invested civic and corporate leaders who all want to do their part to amplify this message. As residents, we must believe in ourselves and be proud of where we live, work and play.
What's the goal of the Project?
Our goal is to be recognized nationally as a leading place to live and work, so that we can attract more business development, tourism and talent to our region, and build community pride.
We also want to enable the entire Columbus community to represent a consistent brand image to all respective audiences, whether that is through conversation, written copy or imagery.
Who can participate?
Any sector, organization or individual promoting Columbus, Ohio as a place to live, visit or do business is welcome and encouraged to use the materials provided on this website.
How can I apply this messaging to my audiences?
The elements on this website are intended for use, in the proper context, by organizations that have a vested interest and need to promote Columbus, Ohio.