Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Top 5 Reasons why we should brand Sarasota as "Creative Paradise"

Its not a new idea - just an idea that never seems to make it past committee. Sarasota needs a brand. (by definition a brand is what defines us and represents why we are unique). We can't just be "Your Beach Destination" or "Good Life. Good Business" (some of the more famous tag lines of Sarasota).

A brand is real, honest and embraced. Its not a tag line formed by committee. Of course everyone has their unique experience in Sarasota - and if you ask 100 people I am sure you would get 100 different descriptions... so by default a brand is inclusive and exclusive at the same time. But most importantly a brand needs equity - so you can sell whatever your selling. If its a weak brand, its a tough sell.

So I am going to make my case of why we should brand Sarasota as "Creative Paradise".

1. John Ringling - one of our founding fathers - and perhaps one of the most creative men in history. He was the original Walt Disney - the real Cirque du Soleil.... the first Creative Entrepreneur.

2. Arts Community - one of the most dynamic arts community for any city (much less a small city). Our Opera, Orchestra, Theatre and sub-culture of rising artists is bar none the best I have seen per capita in the world.

3. Beaches - There are many beaches in the world, but few beaches offer such a dynamic view of city scape, islands, beautiful architecture and the calm horizon of the Gulf. Sarasota is a true paradise.

4. Entrepreneurial Culture - We have a wide-range of entrepreneurs - different from the valley (where the typical entrepreneur is a Stanford grad - 28 years old, who worked at Google or Yahoo, and is spinning off a .com business). Sarasota's entrepreneurs are more art than science. They range from ages of 18 to 88 and their ideas are ambitious. Our unique advantage of having some of the smartest people in the world buy winter homes or retire to our coast gives us a rising class of entrepreneurs that has the potential to drive a new economy.

5. Education Institutions - Although we don't have the likes of an M.I.T in our backyard - we have two of the most heralded creative institutions in the world - Ringling College of Art and Design and New College. Both are recognized as producers of amazing talent that bring some of the most creative ideas to life. And beyond college, we also have Pine View and new Technical Institute - which redefine high school education for the 21st century.

Well that's my pitch...

Whether my brand is liked by many or few - I hope at least we can agree that we need to have all stakeholders in our community come to the table and agree on the message. We are competing with cities all across the world, and we have less capital and in many cases much less incentives to offer. So we better put together one hell of a sales pitch if we want the next generation to move here and help us build the Sarasota of the future..... or we may just end up like Detroit - 25 years too late and dead.


craniacgirl said...

I really like your idea. It is certainly worth pursuing. I don't think we have to worry too much about ending up like Detroit though, but it would go along way to preserving what we have to be as progressive as we can in dealing with climate change. Because while the arts are wonderful, our beaches are our jewel.

Garden Sister said...

I don't live in Sarasota any more--haven't for more than 25 years--but great idea: "Creative Paradise" is perfect branding for Sarasota. All the reasons you cite are good ones. I have two more.

1. I'm a poet and was born in Sarasota (there must be creativeness in the air or in the halls of SMH).

2. My brother (Jon) still lives there and he's pretty darn creative.

Terry Ann Thaxton