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Branding Baltimore

believeBaltimore is slogan-obsessed. Whether directed at city residents or potential tourists, Baltimore seems crazed with defining itself in short sentences or catchy phrases. And now it's about to undertake a major "destination repositioning".

When I first moved to Baltimore it was called "The City that Reads". Next it was re-branded as "The Greatest City in America" by our hottie rockstar mayor. Then the BELIEVE ad campaign was created as a community initiative to reduce crime. (That's hottie mayor in the photo, modeling the slogan tee.) The city went outside for help too, enlisting the services of Faith Popcorn, who developed a "Be" theme that never amounted to much. And now it's been announced that city tourism officials are going to spend half a million dollars to embark on yet another image campaign to attract visitors!

As I prepare to move away from Baltimore this month, I've got to share my two-cents about all this. First, I'm not leaving Baltimore because I think badly of it. In fact, I absolutely love it, and my departure from it may only last a few years. Charm City is a fantastic place to live in or visit for vacation. If you've never been, you should go, plain and simple. TV shows like The Wire and The Corner have supposedly had a negative impact on the city's reputation. I don't watch them so I can't really speak to that, but I just don't buy it — turn off the TV and give the real thing a chance, I can't imagine you'll be disappointed. Baltimore is not New York or Chicago or even Philly. It's Baltimore, with lots to offer on its own as a stand-alone destination. The Frommer's folks agree.

Regardless of whatever slogan it gets slapped with next, the home of the Hon is absolutely worth a visit. The place is affordable, manageable, pleasant — a big city with a small town feel, home to dozens of unique neighborhoods, museums and restaurants. Some call it Smalltimore too — maybe that would work for the tourism folks and we could put that half a mil towards city needs that are a bit more pressing? Name games aside, Baltimore should not be overlooked.

Filed under: Arts and Culture, History, Business, Blogs

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