It is sometimes said that your brand is what people say about you behind your back. In the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area, the regional brand firmly remains the Corridor or Iowa’s Creative Corridor, not ICR Iowa.
Just ask entrepreneur Kelly Dzuris, who recently opened a new business this summer called Corridor Equipment Rental in North Liberty.
Mr. Dzuris and his business partner join dozens of other businesses and organizations in the region that have embraced and continue to embrace the term Corridor as a way of identifying our region.
“My partner and I liked the name and how it pertained to the entire area,” said Mr. Dzuris. “When I think of the Corridor, I think of Interstate 380, North Liberty, Coralville, Tiffin and Cedar Rapids.”
Mr. Dzuris hadn’t heard anything about the ICR Iowa regional brand, and we haven’t seen any businesses embracing ICR Iowa as the name of their business.
The ICR Iowa brand has stumbled from the beginning. Originally it was purported to have been created as simply an external brand, but then was pushed as a completely new regional brand to replace Iowa’s Creative Corridor.
In the Aug. 19 CBJ, we featured a story by freelance writer Christine Hawes about the ICR Iowa brand. The central theme of the article was the emergence of the ICR Iowa brand.
The ICR Iowa brand is also the name of the relatively new joint venture between the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) and the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. One of the objectives of that joint venture is to help with talent attraction and retention to the region. Marketing professionals who have worked or continue to work on the ICR Iowa brand were quoted in the article regarding the various activities of their eponymous organization in those areas.
While the article reported their ideas on the need for the brand and why it was developed, it offered no indication that it is widely recognized, adopted or embraced as a new identity for our region. Brand implementation does not equal brand awareness or brand effectiveness.
If ICR Iowa officials don’t want to listen to local business owners, perhaps they should listen to the very type of young professional they are trying to attract to the region.
Nicole Dieker is a young professional who moved to the area from Seattle and wrote about her journey in a Vox online article earlier this year called “The best $5,929.10 I ever spent: moving back to the Midwest.”
Ms. Dieker wrote: “Not to mention that Cedar Rapids is home to Orchestra Iowa and Revival Theatre Company and Chorale Midwest and all kinds of artistic organizations, and I knew I wanted to be in a city where I could be involved with the arts. In fact, this particular chunk of Eastern Iowa is literally called the Creative Corridor due to its rapid commercial, artistic and entrepreneurial growth…”
In our region, the Corridor brand remains alive and well. Economic officials should realize this and scrap the misguided and ineffective ICR Iowa brand. •
(Editor’s note: CBJ Owner and Publisher John Lohman was the chair of the regional branding effort that generated Iowa’s Creative Corridor).