Editorial: Sizing up ICR, the new regional brand

Editorial / By CBJ Editorial Board

Instead of hiring a regional branding firm and engaging with more than 1,500 people to de­velop a regional brand like local leaders did with Iowa’s Creative Corridor, the new joint venture between the Cedar Rapids Metro Eco­nomic Alliance and Iowa City Area Develop­ment Group and led by Jen Daly pulled a hand­ful of area creatives together and came up with a new name for the region: ICR IOWA.

“We are excited to share ICR IOWA, a new brand imagined by a team of 17 creatives who live and work in our region,” said Ms. Daly in a press release. “The ICR stands for Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, shortened to share that central ‘C.’ The team believes this brand will resonate both within and outside our region, allowing us to develop a stronger presence nationally and in­ternationally for business and talent attraction.”

At least it will fit nicely on a t-shirt, which ap­pears to be one of the primary goals of the brand.

We are withholding final judgment on the concept until we get some pithy slogans from Raygun’s iconoclastic founder, Mike Draper, who is already working on “a really fun note­book design that we are handing out to cli­ents,” Ms. Daly said.

(Full disclosure: the publisher of the Corri­dor Business Journal was the chair of the re­gional branding effort from 2009-2011.)

On a related note, the CBJ held its inaugu­ral Future of Technology event last week (see our coverage on page 3). One common theme discussed was how the region could do a bet­ter job of fostering more tech companies in the Corridor – a highly coveted goal by econom­ic development officials. Two of the event’s speakers – both relatively new to the region, from Los Angeles and Chicago – were pleasant­ly surprised with the area’s vitality and the level of tech activity and support available.

Two suggestions voiced by these new resi­dents were to better market the region and to get more local folks speaking affectionately about what we already have.

Granted, the Iowa Creative Corridor brand was neither created nor implemented as effec­tively as it could have been, but there has also been a recognition and embrace of the name by nearly 200 businesses and organizations in the region, so we were disappointed that the new branding didn’t include this term in some form.

A catchy acronym is now being used in plac­es like Oklahoma City with OKC and MSP in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but Minneapolis-St. Paul is still widely known as the Twin Cities and that brand equity isn’t about to change.

The bottom line is we aren’t going to change the name of the Corridor Business Journal nor are we going to stop referring to the region as the Corridor, and we would encourage others to do the same.