On behalf of the 60 people who work daily to promote, market, and sell our great city, I’m proud to announce the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (ICVA to our friends) is changing its name to Visit Indy.
This is big news – and news driven by research conducted over the last 12 months.
Since 1923, when the original Indianapolis Convention and Publicity Committee was formed, the organization I work for has carried a long and rather bureaucratic sounding named.
An action-oriented name change is not a new phenomenon in the world of Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). Just ask Visit Orlando, Travel Portland, Choose Chicago, or Tourism Toronto. Most progressive DMOs have already made the leap.
We actually debated this exact name change circa 2009, but as we geared up to open the expanded Indiana Convention Center, we decided to keep our full name, as we are the lead organization charged with marketing the convention center.
Today, in addition to our name change, we are also rolling out a new brand strategy, including logo.
Since 2009, we’ve been communicating the city to visitors with a tagline: “Indianapolis: Raising The Game.” Post Super Bowl, we knew we would have to retire this tagline and strategy.
As mentioned, our name change and new branding efforts have been based on research. I’d like to walk you through how, and why, we’ve arrived here.
First, as a city brand, we knew that whatever we used had to be authentic. For example, Denver owns the phrase “The Mile-High City.” New Orleans owns “The Big Easy” (though, curiously, they don’t use it). If another city attempted to pirate one of these nicknames it wouldn’t fly. So, we looked at things only Indianapolis was known for, along with existing nicknames we might be able to leverage.
Our city has been given the organically grown, authentic nickname of “Indy.” My mother named me Jeffrey, but my friends call me Jeff. The same concept applies to the city.
Before someone visits, we’re Indianapolis. Once someone experiences our legendary hospitality and gets to know our city, they affectionately call us Indy.
Alongside Strategic Marketing & Research, Inc. (they help DMOs across the U.S., they are based in Carmel, Indiana), we tested this concept via six focus group sessions in three cities: Chicago, Louisville, and St. Louis . I was there, I saw the reaction when the moderator asked how they viewed our city when referred to as “Indy” rather than “Indianapolis.” People commented that it made the city sound cool, exciting, and hip.
We received the same reaction when sharing with our customer advisory council, a group of influential meeting decision makers from across the U.S.
After the research phase, we partnered with the local firm Lodge Design to bring the concept to life. After a series of concepts, we again went out and tested with leisure travelers, meeting planners, AND local residents.
When the report was compiled, it was clear that we had a winner. So here is our new mark:
- The Y loop is a nod to “The Circle City” and our famed speedway.
- The lettering is connected, playing to the connectivity of the city’s skywalks. The lettering also infuses a retro feeling, paying tribute to the architecture of landmark buildings like Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
- The logo was hand-drawn by a local artist, celebrating our local arts and culture scene, while carrying a sporty vibe that plays to our love of sport.
- The blue color is pulled from our city flag (and the American flag), playing to civic pride and the patriotism evident in our collection of monuments. The blue is also meant to tie into the Central Canal’s water, an attraction that resonated with all visitors.
- The slant of the logo references upward progression. We are a city on the rise.
We are confident that this new brand is genuine, authentic, and has staying power.
And, bottom line, the research shows marketing our destination as “Indy,” and the new logo, resonates.
We will still say and print the sweet sounding word “Indianapolis” when marketing our city. But, we will proudly put forth the “Indy” mark as a statement about the heart and soul of the great city that we call home.