Branding Baltimore

Baltimore is slogan-obsessed. Whether
directed at city residents or potential tourists, Baltimore seems crazed with defining itself in short sentences or
catchy phrases. And now it’s about to undertake a major “destination repositioning”.

When I first moved to Baltimore it was called “The City that Reads”. Next it was
re-branded as “The Greatest City in America” by
our hottie rockstar mayor. Then the
BELIEVE ad campaign was created as a community initiative to
reduce crime. (That’s hottie mayor in the photo, modeling the slogan tee.) The city went outside for help too,
enlisting the services of Faith Popcorn, who developed a “Be” theme that never amounted to much. And now it’s been
announced that city tourism officials are going to spend half a million dollars to embark on yet another
image campaign
to attract visitors!

As I prepare to move away from Baltimore this month, I’ve got to share my two-cents about all this. First, I’m not
leaving Baltimore because I think badly of it. In fact, I absolutely love it, and my departure from it may only last a
few years. Charm City is a fantastic place to live in or visit for vacation. If you’ve never been, you should go, plain
and simple. TV shows like The Wire and The Corner have supposedly had a negative impact on the city’s
reputation. I don’t watch them so I can’t really speak to that, but I just don’t buy it — turn off the TV and give the
real thing a chance, I can’t imagine you’ll be disappointed. Baltimore is not New York or Chicago or even Philly. It’s
Baltimore, with lots to offer on its own as a stand-alone destination.
The Frommer’s folks agree.

Regardless of whatever slogan it gets slapped with next, the home of the Hon
is absolutely worth a visit. The place is affordable, manageable, pleasant — a big city with a small town feel, home to
dozens of unique neighborhoods, museums and restaurants. Some call it Smalltimore too — maybe that would work for the
tourism folks and we could put that half a mil towards city needs that are a bit more pressing? Name games aside,
Baltimore should not be overlooked.