Cleveland Heights this week unveiled a new slogan crafted for the city by Align2Market, one of the many companies that now help cities create rebranding efforts, and, welp, here it is:
Cleveland Heights: We Choose This.
We choose what?
In the landscape of safe, vanilla and otherwise forgettable suburban slogans — including design and other visual branding, services for which Northeast Ohio cities are forking over from $10,000 to $100,000 recently and that include such insightful chestnuts as "Come Together and Thrive" (South Euclid) and "A Community of Neighbors" (Lyndhurst) — it's hard to pull off a clunker to the degree that it seemingly upsets almost everyone in the city, but Cleveland Heights appears to have scored a perfect 10.0 on this challenging maneuver.
The reaction, expressed vociferously online, beyond general confusion as to what the slogan even means if you try to mine it for subtle notes of positivity, is that there's a distinct and almost explicit negative connotation: Hey, Cleveland Heights isn't great, but we choose to be here and we're dealing with it. Love it or leave it!
In our look at the purposes and unclear effects of suburban branding
last month, Cleveland Heights Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow told Scene she was confident that their branding efforts will eventually yield results. She said believes the city branding efforts will enable the city’s messaging to, “reflect what matters to the community to make sure we are clearly and accurately representing Cleveland Heights.” Yasinow also said that she believes that the outcome of the branding effort will be a “better understanding of what Cleveland Heights is and why people should call Cleveland Heights home.”
And... that's not what happened.
If you look at the full presentation from Align2Market
, including field notes, survey results and input from community members, there's a very clear picture of what Cleveland Heights means to those who live and work in Cleveland Heights. Overwhelmingly, the most important values expressed were the city's diversity, creativity, arts and culture and its progressive soul. On the other side, concerns included taxes, crime and public education.
The reconciliation of those comments came in two sentences in the PDF, and it's unclear whether they were written by the company itself or pulled from direct quotes from residents, though it's a safe bet that it's the former.
Anyway, here they are:
"The 'sense of home' is so strong that deficiencies are overlooked or ignored."
"It's not for everyone, but for some it's the only one."
You can see more clearly where this went off the rails as Align2Market crafted the official branding message:
Cleveland Heights has always been the place where dreams dwell. Dreams of a welcoming garden suburb, a community that could open its heart to people of all incomes and ethnic backgrounds. Dreams of the kind of progress that carries us forward while remembering the best of the past.
Somewhere in the background is Cleveland, with all of the energy a city has to offer. But Cleveland Heights is the oasis where we live. Cleveland Heights is where we dream.
We can dream of a better world, where diversity is the value we treasure most. Where unique businesses reflect the personality of their owners. And our children can dream of being anything they want, in neighborhoods that seem to be powered by imagination.
Our dreams have become a reality because of the choices we make. We choose to be different. We choose to be open. We choose to be accepting. And together we’ve chosen to create this special oasis that is Cleveland Heights.
We choose this.
Which, again, works generically as a whole, but grabbing the walk-off line/conclusion without the rest simply doesn't work.
Anyway, residents can now vote on which of three proposed logos will accompany the slogan. Get to voting.
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