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Rochester Branding Survey Results by Brad VanAuken, BrandForward Inc, Rochester, NY

Rochester Branding Survey Results

by Brad VanAuken, BrandForward, Inc.

In branding themselves, municipalities should always play off of their strengths. In a recent online survey of 452 Rochester area residents, we discovered that Rochester has many strengths that can be used to develop a powerful brand position. Rochester was perceived to have the following constellations of strengths:

  1. Signs of a vibrant urban area
    • Big city music, arts and culture
    • A progressive, diverse, sophisticated and stimulating environment
    • A preponderance of excellent schools and universities; smart, highly educated people and rich science and technology
    • Innovative, creative, resilient, entrepreneurial spirit
  2. Pleasant, affordable high quality of life
    • Friendly people
    • Affordable housing
    • Short, easy commutes
  3. Beautiful countryside and lots of water
    • The Finger Lakes
      • Wineries, wine trails and wine tours
    • Lake Ontario
    • The Erie Canal
    • The Genesee River
    • Many nearby outdoor recreational opportunities

We tested fourteen different brand positions in this study and assessed them against the following criteria:

  • Compelling
  • Unique
  • Believable

Three positions emerged as superior to the others and rated highly against all three criteria, but especially against compelling:

  • A progressive small city where science, culture and families thrive
  • Small town feel, big city culture
  • Gateway to the Finger Lakes

There are numerous proof points for each of these three claims and they even dovetail well with messaging targeted at visitors (what’s not to like about big city culture or the Finger Lakes?) and businesses (wouldn’t businesses want a place where people are highly educated and smart and science is thriving?).

People only tend to remember one or two things about a brand. Let’s make sure that snow/long winters or Kodak/declining “rust belt” city are not the two they most often associate with Rochester as there is so much to like and be proud of in our community. The trick is to be consistent about rebranding Rochester focusing on the strongest and most compelling of its many assets.

Click to view the slide show featuring the Rochester Branding Survey results.

Read More…


Connie Herrera November 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

An excellent survey–the results should provide a lot of opportunities for Rochester’s rebranding, tourism and business recruitment. Thank you for sharing with this community.

Thomas J. Baglin November 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm


Rochester USED to employ the sobriquet: “Imaging Capital Of The World.” THAT, certainly has been made a mockery of by Kodak Senior management, eh?

What is the process to revive Rochester’s attractiveness when a marketing slogan has gone bad?

Perhaps, Rochester SHOULD be more attuned to encouraging ENTREPRENEURSHIPS by having the “idea guys” meet with the money guys, and seek a partnership that both can live with, eh?

IF, Rochester could pull this off, then I see a LOT of attractiveness on many levels that would encourage new vibrancy in this locale.

I, for one, MIGHT be a senior citizen, but am NOT deaf, dumb, nor blind to what our community needs are in the economic “sphere of influence.” What I DON’T see is the willingness for CITY, and COUNTY officials to present a more integrated appeal presentation to incite positive outcome. Unfortunately, we DO live in NYS, and must cow-tow to NYC, and ALBANY.

Therefore, what “branding iron” can be formed that is IMPRESSIVE ENOUGH to be employed on many levels to convey that Rochester IS THE “Great Place TO DO BUSINESS FROM?”

Thomas J. Baglin

Steve Morse November 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Rochester: Nice and Easy

Having lived in New York, Boston, Washington, San Francisco and Beijing, I describe Rochester to my old friends as The Capital of Nice.

Nice People
Nice Environment
Nice Culture

It is also easy to live and work here compared to larger cities.

Easy Living
Easy Commute

We could also work Smart in there.

Rochester: The Smart Choice

The Smart Choice for Your Family – Friendly People, Fine Schools
The Smart Choice for Your Business – Scientific Minds, Creative Spirits
The Smart Choice for You – Sophisticated Culture, Natural Beauty

Easy on the Eyes: Beautiful natural setting
Easy on the Ears: Vibrant music scene
Easy of the Wallet: Sell your two bedroom apartment, buy a small estate

Just throwing in my two cents!

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