By Randy Fiveash,
Kentucky Department of Tourism Commissioner
I recently came across a fascinating article dealing with how businesses build brands. There are some quotes that highlight what we're doing with the "Kentucky Unbridled Spirit" brand on a state level.
According to the article's author, Jim Boldebook, "Your brand is quite simply the general perception of your company. It is more than a name, a symbol or design . . . your brand is how you are thought of in relationship to the products and services you offer in relationship to your competition."
We know from our research that people outside Kentucky have almost no opinion of the state, positive or negative. That's why it's essential we create a long-term, sustainable point of differentiation for Kentucky.
Boldebook also states it is important to build a brand because, "Strong brands exist in people's hearts and minds. The stronger and clearer your identity. . . the more likely you are to be considered for purchase consideration, both now and in the future."
We want that "purchase." We want business executives to "buy" Kentucky for company expansions, and we want visitors to "buy" Kentucky for their next vacation, convention or group tour.
We've focused on displaying the brand wherever possible to create that brand identity. The more people see it, the more they will accept and identify the brand with Kentucky. It's also cost effective. Adding the brand to existing materials provides more advertising without more cost.
People across the state are helping us showcase "Kentucky Unbridled Spirit." Examples include:
*More than 110 Kentucky cities and/or counties already display the brand on stationery, web sites, brochures, flyers or posters in offices.
*More than 75 city and county tourism organizations are using the brand in some way, and that number continues to grow.
*In addition to all stationery and government forms, more than 250 state government brochures carry the brand. The brand is being added as new brochures are printed.
*More than 30 private corporations, associations and organizations have added the "Kentucky Unbridled Spirit" brand to web sites, products or signage.
*More than a dozen television and radio stations have agreed to run the Kentucky Unbridled Spirit commercial for free as a public service announcement. The commercial can be seen or heard in the: Lexington, Louisville, Hazard, Frankfort, Bowling Green, Glasgow, Elizabethtown, Paducah and Greenville markets. The commercial also was played on the scoreboard during the UK/ U of L football game.
*We conducted a Google Internet search of "Kentucky Unbridled Spirit," and found approximately 243,000 "hits." That means the brand is showing up all over the world.
We saved more than $1 million when we consolidated state advertising and marketing contracts. We invested $500,000 of that to research and create the brand. Now, we are incorporating it into our regular advertising efforts. Every place where we can include the brand, it extends our advertising reach at very little cost to the state.
The state has received its first checks from sales of Kentucky Unbridled Spirit merchandise. State government receives a percentage of every sale in stores and on the Internet. Merchandise is selling briskly online at
www.kentuckyunbridledspirit.com That includes one large order we recently received from Nigeria. Branded merchandise is also available at more than 60 retail outlets statewide, and that number is growing daily.
Some retailers have told us they want the state to make a long-term commitment to the brand. While they carry the merchandise because there is a market for it, they also want to be sure that the state doesn't abandon this effort any time soon. If this effort is to be completely successful, we have to consistently promote this brand over time.
The most exciting payoff from this campaign so far is that Kentuckians have embraced their own "Unbridled Spirit." It has helped us identify and take pride in what makes us special. Now our challenge is to display that pride and that "Unbridled Spirit" to the rest of the world. Once others know about us, more jobs and more visitors will want to share in that spirit. That will improve our economy and our future.