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What’s in a Name?

For years now, state and local economic development marketers across the country have been pursuing the holy grail of a catchy tag line that engraves their location on the subconscious of the nation.

The success stories are, well, memorable. Mention Las Vegas and “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” immediately pops into your cerebellum. New York is synonymous with “The Big Apple.”

Of course, along the way, there also have been some slogans that didn’t quite hit the mark.

In the 1980s, the Garden State came up with “New Jersey and You, Perfect Together,” which never really clicked. But that may have been the result of Gov. Tom Kean’s patrician accent, which rendered the tag line “Puhhfect Togethah.”

Enter the city fathers of Columbus, OH. As detailed in an article in Sunday’s New York Times, the civic leaders of Ohio’s capital have elevated their search for a new slogan to something akin to the Manhattan Project.

The Columbus Chamber of Commerce and representatives from local promotional organizations including the Columbus Foundation, Experience Columbus and the job-creating Columbus Partnership have joined forces to leave no stone unturned in search of the verbiage that will put Columbus on the national radar with the intensity of a heat-seeking missile.

The city elders have named a special task force to come up with a new slogan for Columbus. The task force reportedly has been sworn to secrecy until it can reach a consensus choice, for as long as it takes. According to the Times, the task force is not expected to unveil a new tag line for Columbus until the middle of next year.

Apparently, the city is a bit gun-shy about moving too quickly to embrace a new slogan because six earlier branding efforts fizzled out. Previous entries included “Discover Columbus,” “Surprise, It’s Columbus” and the current standard-bearer, “There’s No Better Place.”

“Columbus has not had a bad image,” Paul Astleford, director of Experience Columbus, told the Times. “It has just had no image in the national marketplace.”

One model the top-secret task force reportedly is eyeing is that used by nearby Indianapolis, which has fashioned itself the “Amateur Athletic Capital of America.”

Since Columbus is one of our favorite towns, we wish the city well in its quest for a new slogan. We look forward to seeing the winning line.

We presume the new slogan will not be based on the motion picture title of the vintage romantic comedy starring Ali MacGraw and Richard Benjamin, which was based on the novella of the same name by Philip Roth:

“Goodbye, Columbus.”

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