The Nashville Brand
The marketplace for fashionable major U.S. cities has a rather long-standing penchant for exclusivity, filling itself to the brim and building its barriers to entry very high many years ago. New York City ran with the big city hustle and bustle, while Los Angeles took the fun, sun, and show biz. D.C. inevitably grabbed the power of politics, Portland the free spirited hipsters, and Miami rounded it out with its party-all-night vibe, just to name a few.
All of these metropolitan meccas are also guaranteed to come along with their own rather zealous and jealous audiences all wrapped up in deep love affairs with the ‘big city life,’ doing their best to maintain a clear and wide division between the ‘city people’ and ‘country folk’.
However, recently, Nashville, the deep South country music haven that so much of America has so often viewed as a backwards little town in the middle of nowhere where people ride horses instead of driving cars, eat fried chicken for every meal, play banjos and talk with funny accents, has become somewhat of a new buzzword all across the United States.
It seems that every time I get online there’s a new article about the thriving cosmopolitan Nashville nightlife, the trendy food, the hot celebrities, and the great places to visit or live. Suddenly it’s topping Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek’s national rankings of ‘hottest’, ‘best’, and ‘up-and-coming’ cities, and now it even has it’s own popular ABC television show, simply, yet appropriately dubbed, “Nashville.”
So what’s all the hype about? Where did it come from and how did it happen? Is this all just an accident, a matter of coincidence, that Nashville’s now being noticed as a hip, trendy and fun place for hip, trendy and fun ‘city people’ to experience, and no longer just a hot spot for honkytonks, hillbillies and rednecks?
No, it is no accident, and, in fact, it’s all a matter of positioning,
Positioning is a process that attempts to successfully occupy a market niche that sells, or best highlights, the benefits and value of a particular brand to its audience, creating a desired impression in the target market’s minds of that particular brand in relation to its competitors. In other words, it is the brand’s ‘stereotype,’ an outward portrayal of the intended brand identity that, in essence, allows the consumers to ‘judge the book by its cover.’
In coming onto the scene, Nashville had the odds stacked against it, and a great deal of strategic thought and planning has gone into all the progress that has been made thus far.
The city has demanded the attention of the nation, drawing people to its unique and attractive southern location by holding onto its genuine country music roots, all while integrating big business and education into an updated urban atmosphere. It reached out and tapped into an audience who loved their exciting and well-connected city lives, but appreciated the down home Southern country charm.
Nashville has achieved success in positioning because it is not trying to be something it is not or attempting to replicate the ‘brand’ of any other city that has come before it. It is a new and creative hybrid all of its own, and as long as it remains true to itself in the manner, it will be able to continue in this pattern of innovation and see tremendous growth for many years to come.