Branding Innovation Takes off in Cities, States

September 04, 2013

Typically, marketing efforts for cities and states encompass the promotion of a variety of desirable qualities to attract businesses and creative talent. Lately, it seems the title of Chief Innovation Officer has picked up steam in localities and across states as leaders seek to brand their region as “the” place for innovation. Take Colorado, for example, where last week Gov. John Hickenlooper rolled out a new logo and slogan for the state and, at the same time, appointed a new Chief Innovation Officer charged with leading the state’s efforts to increase competitiveness.

Chief Innovation Officers have been around for at least the last decade in some Fortune 500 companies and more recently, the position has been adapted in smaller businesses, higher education and government. A recent CNN Money article reported that municipalities have added the position in hopes of infusing a startup attitude and making the city more cutting-edge by employing someone to find and implement new technologies. Some of those cities include Kansas City, Mo., San Francisco, Philadelphia, Louisville, and Austin. State-level positions also seem to be growing, though perhaps at a slower pace than in cities. Governors in Colorado and Maryland added the job title to their administrations in 2011.

The role of Chief Innovation Officer can vary widely across industry and sector. Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, community engagement, identifying future technology needs, and connecting and encouraging the startup community are just some of the major functions reported by states and localities. The task also requires proper messaging to convey regional assets and encourage growth. Similarly, practitioners of technology-based economic development are champions of innovation, but often their successes can get lost in translation. While those inside tech-based economic development get it, the work being done to support regional innovation and why sustained public-private investment is so important, can be somewhat difficult to understand for the broader community. Fortunately, there are examples of improving messaging techniques to highlight.

Learn More at SSTI's 17th Annual Conference!

As part of a broader theme on Telling Your Story, we are tying together three elements on the topic. First, our keynote, Dan Wieden of Wieden + Kennedy will speak on communicating complexity. The second part is a session on communicating impact in a meaningful way with discussion led by marketing/branding professionals, and third is a workshop to help translate all of this into useful practice. Register Now!

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