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With Rebranding Campaign, Gahanna Searches For Name Recognition

City of Gahanna

According to city officials, Gahanna just doesn't stand out.

Gahanna marketing director David Kusz says it came to their attention that the city of 33,000 lacks a clear brand - and that's a problem for staying competitive.

“One of the reoccurring themes was that Gahanna lacks an identity," Kusz says. "These businesses love being based here and doing business here. But it’s very hard for them to articulate what Gahanna is."

To help with that articulation, Gahanna announced it would seek proposals from ad agencies for an "umbrella brand" for the city, which it hopes will "help elevate the City as a leading, progressive community in the Columbus region, the State of Ohio and beyond."

According to branding expert Tammy Katz, a lecturer at Ohio State's Fisher College of Business, rebranding is an effort to reposition cities in a way that's compelling for businesses to locate there and for consumers to shop and spend time there. 

And, Katz says, this has to be done strategically - rather than just "slapping a logo and colors on a city."

Katz applauds Gahanna officials for soliciting feedback and listening to what business owners and residents think about the city.

The "Columbus 2020" initiative, Katz says, is a model to look at for successful city branding.

"They've consistently said how the city is open and smart and really capitalizes on that this is a very intelligent city, with assets like Ohio State and Battelle, and open, celebrating the great mount of diversity in Columbus," Katz says.

Franklinton also found success moving away from its reputation as "The Bottoms," and the King-Lincoln district is seeing results repositioning the Mt. Vernon area.

"Franklinton representing all of the lively and vibrant art scene, as well as a cool place to live, a very different image than it had before," Katz says. "It's very important that what's behind it has a strategy, not just a visual change."

Katz says the centerpiece to King-Lincoln's change was the King Arts Complex, as well as a name change of its own.

Now, Columbus is seeing its suburbs compete with each other for businesses and consumers - and Gahanna hopes to join the race.

Proposals are due to the city of Gahanna by April 21.