[The Montegonian]:::Brand Montego: 1

No. 68 Friday, March 19, 2010
With Yannick Pessoa
"A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well."
                              -Jeff Bezos
"There is more similarity in the marketing challenge of selling a precious painting by Degas and a frosted mug of root beer than you ever thought possible. "
                              -A. Alfred Taubman
    In today's environment cities compete amongst each other for talent, business and human resources. In many ways they have to act like commercial entities by selling themselves to potential customers - business investors, visitors/tourists, the working and creative classes as successful, vibrant, forward­looking brands. Simply put they have to market themselves as the place to be, project an image of tomorrow and betterment.

    Montego Bay City must re­examine its role and function, as well as define its appeal to 'citizens/consumers'. Our city must distinguish itself from our competitors (Kingston, Portmore, Ocho Rios) and position our self as a recognizable brand in an increasingly regional and international market place. Port of Spain, San Fernando, Bridgetown, Kingstown are all Caribbean cities vying for status and international cosmopolitan appeal, so what of us in the Bay? Relying on past glory is no longer enough; As the once den like, homely Montego Bay is now becoming a metropolis and showing a citizenry acquiring the cosmopolitan lifestyles to go with it ... the friendly city is now a big city, and nowhere near as friendly as it used to be. Today, successful companies and young talented people have lost hometown loyalties; note the
influx of outsiders and outside businesses in MoBay, not to mention the 'Spanish Invasion'. They can choose where to cluster. Cities with distinctive characteristics; be they economic, cultural, environmental or life style, will attract the best companies and people. So now we have questions of Montego Bay's identity and its brand identity: What are the distinctive characteristics of Montego Bay, what makes us, US?
                     Living Legends
    As with companies, a city's distinctiveness begins with an understanding of what it wants to be and what it has to offer. So we must ask ourselves and answer, what do we want to be and what do we have to offer the world? The city's actual condition is established and then the distinctive features and tools at its disposal are determined with a view to carving out a clear and strong identity. We need to assess ourselves and our position and move forward with the idea we are going to play up and hone our advantages.
    Because the identity of a particular city is inescapably influenced by its past, it seems reasonable to take advantage of old strengths. Hence, the city needs to seize the opportunity of successfully building our new identities around our historic architecture and long-standing traditions and heritage. For Montego Bay, as with any other city of culture, we need to recognize that historical edifices are essential ingredients of the city's identity, image, and attractiveness.
    Every year Museums attract some millions of tourists, while other monuments and landmarks like the Eiffel Tower surpasses six millions visitors annually. But not only historic monuments attract paying visitors in their millions. Munich's Oktoberfest, the world's largest amusement fair, also welcomes some six mil­lion guests each year. Hence we as a city need to lobby for museums, monuments, art and more for our Montego Bay. And plus we do need the visitors don't we, if we are going to continue the pursuit of tourism doggishly.
    Parts of the city that do not enjoy the benefit of a rich cultural heritage have to, if they don't want to be overlooked, develop their own style and attractions. Bilbao is the prefect example.
- To Be Continued

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