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‘Western Mass’; We’re Back Where We Started

Opinion

If it seems like this region is back where it started when it comes to the Economic Development Council’s latest attempt at branding (or rebranding) the region …. well, it is.

Indeed, months after this dubious exercise began, the EDC and the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau announced this week, sort of, that the new (new?) marketing slogan for Western Mass. will be ‘Western Mass’ — without the period and in colors approaching orange and green.

The cynics are right to ask why this region’s business community spent $80,000 (not an insignificant sum by any stretch) to hire a nationally recognized public relations firm that specializes in this kind of work to come up with a new brand (‘West Mass,’ which no one liked), and then essentially let the public decide that the brand would be something that everyone was already calling this part of the Commonwealth.

Now, it seems, the region will try to take that name that we’ve all used for decades and make it known nationally, thus giving this area some sort of identity.

Maybe things will work out, but from our view, this exercise has been an expensive comedy of errors and mis-steps — a well-intentioned comedy of errors to be sure.

From the beginning, and again now, we’ll say that economic development leaders in this region should be far less focused on coming up with a brand (and retiring ‘Pioneer Valley’) and more focused on simply telling the region’s story.

And it’s a good story that’s getting even better, with MGM Springfield opening in 15 months, the city’s downtown in the midst of a renaissance, and people recognizing that this is a great place to live, work, and start a business.

This region could have done a lot of good story telling with $80,000, but instead we spent the better part of a year learning that we already had a good brand and didn’t need another one.

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