Voice of the Brand

I’m in Chicago this week attending a conference called “Voice of The Brand: Music.” It’s an intense two-day confab of companies looking to brand themselves by using music, giving music content providers (like Sony, Warner Brothers, Universal Music Group), music disseminators (like Pandora, Spotify, IHeartRadio, Slacker) and actual consumer brands (FedEx, Tito’s Vodka) the ability to meet, come up with innovative ideas and solutions, and potentially connect and to do some business.
I’ve met a lot of interesting folks, and heard some really innovative ways that companies use music to connect with their audiences.
Being kind of a market research geek, I was fascinated to hear about the depth of the information that a company like Pandora can provide. For example, they can track demographics of the listeners of all types of music and see how certain bands are “trending.” Because they can gather info on what listeners like before there’s really even a buzz on the street, companies like Pandora can provide a wealth of information to a company who wants to affiliate their brand with music to reach a certain, very specific audience.
Of course, this started me thinking about OffBeat’s brand, and I know for sure that it’s a lot more than just music: OffBeat is sort of the bible for the “church of New Orleans.” Of course, music is our stepping-off point because we’ve always felt that without our music, New Orleans (and Louisiana) wouldn’t be unique and attractive as a place to live and work, and surely, as place to visit.
Our culture is the most precious and valuable commodity that we have, especially now that we are so dependent on the hospitality industry as an economic driver.
How should we brand New Orleans in the years to come? What’s the voice of our brand? Should we amp up our already-rampant image as a party city? Or should we perhaps try to rebrand ourselves as a cultural mecca? Las Vegas or New York? Me, I’m tending towards New York. Would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Dan Morford

    Not Las Vegas period, and not New York either, but I get what you mean. The best word to describe NOLA-specific culture is “Gumbo.” I know it is over used in the tourist vernacular, but stop and really think about what the word means! Sure, music is a main component…call that the roux if you will. But what about the history (rice), culinary (meat/seafood), and of course the social people part (Trinity)??? Then add in the various veggies, spices and other lagniappe, and you have New Orleans. Take any of those things away and the Gumbo suffers greatly. The Offbeat brand should reflect all of these things together, the “Gumbo” that is New Orleans!

    • janramsey

      Personally, I’m sick of hearing that New Orleans is a “gumbo.”
      While indeed, its appeal may be a combination of a lot of superior ingredients, it’s a tenet of “branding” that you go for a single concept or branding proposition. All I’m suggesting is that New Orleans brand itself as a music city. Believe it or not, this has never, ever been done. By branding it as a city of music, it’s not to say that the history, food, art, culture and architecture will be ignored. We’re just focusing on one aspect of the city that could seriously increase our appeal to a broader audience and get them here so they experience more than just the booze and the party–which is typically what we use now in our marketing.

      • Dan Morford

        I understand that the word is overused, but I don’t know of a better one at this point, especially as it applies to what we are speaking about. I truly admire your passion for the music, and even share it believe me. But, I also strongly feel that branding a city of such parallel strengths in this serial fashion is an overstep and even an injustice. You said it well in your own comment, music, history, food, art, culture, architecture…all prevalent and key components of a singularly unique city on earth. As a marketing professional myself, I agree about concept branding, but truly Jan, New Orleans is so much more than just music alone and all the better for it! It is indeed very sad that booze and that single component of the party are the largest current focal points of the NOLA message and resulting perception around the U.S. and internationally. But, you will never slaughter that dragon with music alone.

  • Clare

    I visited New Orleans for the very first time this spring and before going I read ” the world that made New Orleans” by Ned Sublette. It gave me great information, everyone we met was friendly, and helpful but one of the best the was the national park ranger at the visitor center in the French Quarter. Go for the history, embrace all of the past. All parts of it. Music on Frenchman’s St. All the wonderful food too but we don’t have that kind of history in Colorado and we need to know it. I couldn’t get my family (adults mind you) to the Backstreet Musum because so many locals told us it was too dangerous! The park ranger was the only person who said it was perfectly safe, by then it was too late! I’m coming back.

  • Shari

    I’ve never been to New York, but New Orleans is definitely not Vegas. New Orleans is my favorite city, I love the people, the fantastic music of every known genre and then some, the food, and the culture. I have visited many times, yet I always find something new (to me) to be amazed by. It might be a venue, a restaurant, a band, an artist, or any other number of fabulous and surreal things I have seen and experienced in New Orleans. The music is the big draw for me, but there is so much more. I vote rebranding as a cultural and artistic mecca. Thank you so much for Offbeat! That is how we find so many of the interesting things to do there.