Chicago has done a lot of things to try to elevate its “brand” in terms of physical appearance, environment, signage, and so on, right down to efforts like the Navy Pier revamp that’s going to (hopefully) transform a public space for the better. But what about branding a municipality — having an integrated, conscious grammar of colors, styles, and more that are intended to create a unified look-and-feel?
This article we stumbled across on a travel site made us think about how various municipalities or communities informally or even rigorously brand themselves. South Beach certainly has its own look-and-feel, but that’s probably got less to do with ordinances and codes than it does with the whole Caribe vibe; everybody probably knows at least one community that restricts signage, dictates building styles, and tries to enforce a standardized visual grammar. Disney build an entire housing development, Celebration, on the premise of creating a certain ambiance by taking those kinds of strictures to the Nth degree, much like their theme parts.
It’s easier in a totalitarian or authoritarian state, of course, to get people to comply with the kinds of aims Cuba has in mind. But we can’t help thinking it’s merely a kind of facade, meant to beguile the tourists, rather than being an organic, natural outcome of native culture.
But if you had Bosslike power (Daley, not Springsteen) to wave your hand and command the design and branding of the great city of Chicago, what would you do?