What’s in a slogan? Plenty, depending on what you’re selling

The flowers are starting to bloom, baseball season has returned and soon summer will be here.

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2008 5:00pm
  • Opinion

The flowers are starting to bloom, baseball season has returned and soon summer will be here.

One of the fun activities I like in the summer is to visit other suburban cities’ annual community celebrations. Each city has a parade, lots of food I’m not supposed to eat, and fun things to buy and see.

Burien’s Strawberry Festival, Auburn’s Good Ole Days and Renton’s River Days, all are similar to Federal Way’s Festival Days. Kirkland and Bellevue have outstanding summer art shows. In each city, you usually read their city slogan as you enter town. It tells visitors how the town sees itself.

Many communities in search of identity, economic development and tourist dollars have looked to public relations firms to create a “brand” for their city. They spend thousands of dollars for names, mottos or slogans to create a new identity followed by videotapes, welcome signs and brochures that will separate them from other non-

Seattle suburban jurisdictions.

These highly-paid professionals seek to create a positive and memorable image that will ensure you will visit and leave money — or maybe move there and start a business.

Up the road in the city of SeaTac, which used to mean Seattle-Tacoma, the slogan was “The Hospitality City” because it has an airport and a lot of hotel rooms for visitors. A bunch of nice folks live there, but the hospitality image suffers a little depending on whether your luggage is still there or went home with you.

Renton promotes itself as “Ahead of the Curve.” But that just reminds us of the traffic jams at the “S” curves on the freeway, which is something most of us would like to forget. Maybe a better slogan for Renton would be: “You Can See Mercer Island From Here” or “New Home of the Seattle Seahawks.” Or should that be the Renton Seahawks? That probably would just annoy Kirkland, whose new motto might be “Former Home of the Seahawks.”

I grew up in Tacoma and they have long been known as “The City of Destiny.” I’ve never been quite sure what the destination is or how they’ll know when they get there. But that’s better than what I heard recently as Tacoma’s new motto,“The Wired City.” Maybe a little less caffeine in that Starbucks would be a good idea. Or maybe it has

something to do with wanting everybody to be able to plug their computer into everything. I’m not sure.

Several years ago, Bellevue had a campaign that called itself “The Twin-Cities.” Seattle, presumably the other half, wasn’t amused, but most everyone else was.

I initially thought the slogan referred to Bellevue and Newcastle, and wondered how much Newcastle had chipped in.

Seattle wants to be “Metronatural,” which refers to being urban or green, I think. Seattle should be “Where Your Tax Dollar Goes to Support Pro Sports,” but is instead called the “Emerald City.”

But Emerald Downs is in Auburn, which just adds to the confusion. Now, Auburn has had several slogans over the years. Remember “Little Giant of the Valley” or “Little Detroit of the West?” Their new one is “More Than You Imagined.” I’m not sold on the slogan just yet, but I love the new entryway signs.

Bothell’s is “Closer than You Think, More Than You Know.” Bothell might be more than I know, but it’s not close to anything, at least not from here.

I went through Olympia recently and saw a sign that said “The All-American City,” but I didn’t see a picture of Jim Thorpe or even Jake Locker. I guess it’s an award, not a slogan.

And I thought Federal Way was referring to the new Sees Candy store with the slogan, “It’s All Within Reach.” But I was told it refers to our central location between Seattle and Tacoma. If that’s true, why should I “reach” it in one of those places? Shouldn’t it already be here?

Maybe we should rethink this whole slogan concept.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at bjroegner@comcast.net.

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