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EDITORIAL

This is, honest to goodness, the best they could do?

Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 12:01 am

At least we're not wandering Indiana until our engines stall.

So, you probably think that when the state needs a new slogan, somebody just starts throwing out ideas until there’s one everybody in the room likes.

No, no, no, that’s much too casual and haphazard a method for something so important to the state’s well-being. And while we’re at it, it’s not slogan – such a common, plain sort of word. No, it’s brand – if you don’t have a brand, you can’t sell the product.

What happens is that the Indiana Office of Tourism Development hires itself a marketing company. Then a “brand development panel” of 30 tourism professionals is convened. Then there is a year of research and development. Then surveys and focus groups gather the input of 8,000 consumers, better known as potential tourists.

Whew! And guess what that elaborate process came up with?

“Honest to Goodness Indiana.”

Honest to goodness, that’s what they picked. Though it has a certain folksy charm – it sounds like something Aunt Bee might say to Barney on “The Andy Griffith Show” – its exact meaning is, well, somewhat vague. The news release says something about “Hoosier hospitality” and “authentic experiences” and “experiences and people that are genuine.”

Is that going to make the tourists eager, even desperate, to come here? We should hope so, since they’re going to spend considerable money putting it in ads in magazines and on billboards, radio and television. The goal is to add to what is already an important part of the Hoosier economy. A report released in December shows the travel, tourism and hospitality industry is the sixth largest industry in the state, responsible for nearly 140,000 jobs and contributing $10 billion a year in revenue.

And if a slogan – er, brand – can really help, “Honest to Goodness Indiana” will probably do a better job than what it replaced – “Restart Your Engines,” which makes Indiana sound like a good place to have your car break down. And it is certainly preferable to the one before that, the insipid command to “Enjoy Indiana.”

And to be fair, all 50 states have brands, and if we didn’t have one all the other kids on the playground would make fun of us.

But let’s try a little experiment. “Come See For Yourself.” That’s New Jersey’s brand. Does it make you want to go pack your bags and daydream about giving Chris Christie’s a big bear hug?

Now, this.

Hawaii.

Want to go there? Need to see the brand before you make up your mind?

Didn’t think so.