A good debate over the "Good Life."
In order to better understand the current public debate about Nebraska’s brand, one must go back to 2011 when LB684 directed Nebraska Tourism to create a statewide strategic plan including marketing recommendations. That plan was completed and made public in August of 2011 and can be viewed at http://industry.visitnebraska.org/pdfs/2012StrategicPlan.pdf.
One of the marketing recommendations that came out of the strategic plan was that the Tourism Commission needed to conduct a statewide branding research initiative. In October of 2013, Bailey Lauerman and Believable Brands, on behalf of the Tourism Commission, conducted focus groups and statewide surveys with thousands of participants, including, key industry stakeholders, Nebraska residents and past and potential visitors to the state.
The goal was simple. The Commission wanted to know more about what makes Nebraska unique and distinctive in the eyes of others so it can be better communicated to our residents and visitors. To our knowledge, there hasn’t ever been an extensive research study conducted that has asked residents and non-residents to weigh in about the state’s identity.
The input received in those surveys is being used in the process of developing a brand promise from which advertising, collateral materials and other messaging platforms will be created. These materials could include taglines and logos developed in conjunction with the brand promise. The Nebraska Tourism Commission plans to unveil the new tourism marketing campaign this spring.
Legislative Bill 1024, recently introduced by Nebraska State Senator Heath Mello on behalf of the Nebraska Tourism Commission, would give the Commission the authority to adopt a new state symbol and slogan. This bill was introduced because the current official state slogan within state law is “Welcome to NEBRASKAland – where the West begins.” Some media reports and public response to the legislation had indicated that the official state slogan is “The Good Life,” this is inaccurate.
“We realize that ‘The Good Life’ slogan seen on many signs entering the state has been endeared by the state’s citizens since the 1970s,” Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director Kathy McKillip said. “We recognize that there is affection for the term the good life and want the public to understand that our efforts are not specifically about taking away a slogan or symbol but creating a brand for state tourism that makes us a more marketable destination.”
“I think it is important for people to realize that the commission is charged with growing an industry that is very important to our state’s economy. In fact, many people would be surprised to know that tourism is the third largest revenue source in the state and directly generates more than 36,100 jobs,” McKillip said. “The process of branding Nebraska as a destination for both in and out of state visitors is more than creating a symbol or slogan. The intent of LB 1024 is to simply provide the opportunity, as needed, to change the current official state slogan and symbol, ‘Welcome to NEBRASKAland – where the West begins’ which was approved in 1963 and is no longer used.”