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Big Chuck

July 19, 2010

I Was Just Thinking: Searching for a brand that fits the community

Saddle up, pardner. It's branding time at the ol' Oneonta corral!

On Aug. 5, a new branding logo will be revealed to all at a special ceremony at the Oneonta Theatre. Branding is the idea that a community should have a slogan, logo or saying that is concise, sharp and so focused so that the image of the community comes immediately to mind.

You know, like "Ithaca Is Gorges!" Yes, Ithaca is gorgeous, and its gorges are part of the city's lure. A nice play on words, that one is. Or Lake Placid's "Home in the High Peaks." Sweet.

Of course, some have unintended meanings or ancient references. Troy long ago shed the moniker "The Collar City" for the much more Chamber of Commerce-friendly, "Home of Uncle Sam." And the best Niagara Falls could do, with all the glory it had to work with, was "The Cataract City." Why it chose to use the old, obscure waterfall reference instead of something evoking more grandeur is beyond me. I mean, I see "The Cataract City" on a sign and it tells me I am in a city where everyone has bad eyesight!

So I can't wait to see what The Glen Group, the New Hampshire pros hired to brand us, comes up with for Oneonta. I just hope they remember that the shorter, the better.

Advertising Age Magazine tells us that the most memorable slogans of all time have been ones just three little words long. They are "Just Do It," "We Try Harder," "Breakfast of Champions," "Diamonds Are Forever," and the immortal "Where's the Beef?" You all know these companies, don't you?

Three words. Powerful. Heck, even Nancy Reagan's much-maligned three-word anti-drug message, "Just Say No," is now getting a much-appreciated second look.

Now, back to our brand.

A concise saying to describe our area, huh? It'll be quite a task if they choose to go the "three-word route." I mean our area has an embarrassment of riches. I know that by the time Friday comes around on my radio program I have given out pages and pages of info about the upcoming weekend's events.

A week ago I went out to dinner with some family members and we were talking about how much there really is to do in our area. My mother-in-law said in passing, "Whenever anybody asks me what is there do to in our area, I reply, just look around!"

Ding! Ding!

"Just look around." Short, simple and three words. I could see the bumper stickers already, "Oneonta ... just look around!" "Otsego County ... just look around."

It speaks volumes about our region. Sure, family events, concerts, fundraisers, gallery showings, performances, etc., don't always reach up and smack you in your face. But if you, well, just look around, there they are as big as life!

Oneonta and its environs positively demand that you get out and enjoy. Over the last couple of weeks I have talked about and attended art shows (such as the fabulous Stagecoach Run in Treadwell), live performances (Delaware County's own "Good Humor" man, Jim Mullen at the Franklin Stage Company), a cornucopia of bountiful farmers' markets (Cooperstown and Oneonta), the fantastic First Friday extravaganzas in Oneonta all season long, old car shows, "Warplanes Over the Polo Grounds" in Gilbertsville (twice!), junior livestock shows in Cooperstown, Oneonta's own version of American Idol, which brings SRO crowds to the Foothills Performing Arts Center (this CNY Radio event is the largest talent show in Central New York and the young entertainers are first-rate), live baseball action at Damaschke Field (Outlaws) or Doubleday Field (Hawkeyes) and much more.

And it's not even fair season yet!

The folks from New Hampshire will have their work cut out for them. Otsego County used to be the "Leatherstocking Region," which I loved, but let's face it, the romance of "Leatherstocking Region" starts to draw blanks once you hit, say, Whitney Point. "What's a leatherstocking?"

And I never liked "City of the Hills." Never. It always kind of sounded like a "clip art slogan." "You got hills? Good, you're now the City of the Hills." Next. Yawn.

So I wish our branders well in summing up the whole of our parts. It'll be hard to imagine a logo without the ubiquitous soccer ball in it, now just a misty memory of the shuttered Hall of Fame.

I hope the soccer ball is not replaced with a baseball, again weakly trying to tie our apron strings to our neighbor up Route 28.

What about the "little red caboose" where history really was made? Will that make the final pick? Brook's House of Bar-B-Q? The colleges? "Birthplace of IBM?" The Susquehanna?

Yes, pardner, I can't wait!

Oh, and by the way. So you are not scratching your heads the rest of the day, the companies alluded to in the beginning of this column are Nike, Avis, Wheaties, DeBeers and Wendy's.

'Big Chuck' D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at wdosbigchuck@aol.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck. You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books.

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