A group focused on spurring regional cooperation to boost the economy wants to raise $3 million to $5 million to rebrand Greater Washington and challenge its reputation as an epicenter of politics and gridlock.
The 2030 Group, a consortium of businesses, organizations and executives, will unveil a new video and website Thursday that will serve as a sort of platform for future marketing efforts. Then a call to fund the regionwide branding effort will begin.
The amped-up marketing effort emerges from months of work, hundreds of thousands of dollars and dozens of meetings with people of all agencies and companies across industries. It is one of several updates that will come out of The 2030 Group’s 2nd annual Roadmap for Washington Region’s Economic Future event at the Hay-Adams Hotel.
“This is really the notion of rallying around a big idea that represents who we are beyond the federal government,” said Cary Hatch, CEO of advertising firm MDB Communications, who is helping coordinate the rebranding effort. “We want organizations and major employers that stand to benefit from this to understand the momentum and magnitude and the campaign we are putting together.”
In October, Hatch unveiled the marketing effort’s central theme— “Greater Washington: Where you come to make history happen” — that would serve as the basis for various campaigns.
If everything goes well, the new marketing push could begin in the fall, although that depends on fundraising and other factors, Hatch told me. New York-based Interbrand helped with the preliminary branding effort, but the 2030 Group plans to open up the big campaign to other interested companies.
The question remains, however: Can a large-scale branding effort be successful?
“I think it needs to be successful,” responded Hatch, who said the region is at an “inflection point” as more people realize they need to do more to make sure it retains its competitive advantages. “I think people are paying attention now more than ever and realize we need to take our fate into our own hands.”
And while much of the nation is fixated on the new Trump administration, Hatch said the rebranding effort could help show a different side of Greater Washington.
“We are not naive enough to think that our campaign is going to replace what is currently going on,” Hatch said. “But we are being so marginalized by the vitriol that people don’t even bother to consider what we do have to offer.”
Can the group raise the money? The plan is to release the video and hope people sign on and support the effort.
“It’s going to take all of us,” said developer Bob Buchanan, 2030 Group president. “We need to be proactive and control our destiny a bit more. I am hoping that the video and the process will bring a lot of people to the table and say, ‘Yes we want to be a part of this.’”
The region’s brand is not the only item on the docket for the event. Economist Stephen Fuller plans to update attendants with how the region has been doing in its attempts to diversify its economy beyond the federal government (previous updates have shown this to be less than good news).
The 2030 Group also has several working groups focused on areas such as housing affordability, transportation, innovation and on exports. Those groups will discuss their progress and potential challenges facing Greater Washington.
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Copyright Washington Business Journal, reprinted with permission