On Thursday evening in Nashua, a group of city and business leaders officially unveiled the city's new logo and slogan: "Dare to Begin." Ironically, the event would not have been possible were the city not already blessed with so many daring young leaders who began revitalizing the city years ago.
Speaking at the festivities was James Pennington of R.J. Finlay & Co., which moved from Milford to Nashua, he said, because of events like the one held that evening. We can believe it. The Nashua Chamber of Commerce under President and CEO Chris Williams and the city under Mayor Donalee Lozeau have dedicated a great deal of energy to enlivening the city and bringing people together to solve problems. There exists a sense of community among Nashua business leaders that would be the envy of many other municipalities.
Nashua's new brand is the fruit of a years-long effort to build a more vibrant city. The new logo is attractive and symbolic of the city's location and spirit; the slogan is catchy. Were they worth the more than $100,000 in public and private funds spent to obtain them? Nashua officials and civic leaders think so. History will prove them right or wrong.
One event speaker, Lori Piper of Merrimack County Savings Bank, said the new brand will help civic leaders sell the city. Before, there was no unified message. No one said the wrong thing, but not everyone was saying the same thing, she said.
To the extent that the city's new branding presents an image of a unified, forward-looking city, it certainly will not hurt. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that many business owners and executives will read the vague slogan "Dare to begin" and think to themselves, "That seals it. This is the city for me and my company!"
When the University of New Hampshire spent $100,000 on a new logo, it was pilloried. (At least Nashua also got a slogan out of the deal.) The reaction to Nashua's expensive new brand has been much more positive. Why? We suspect it has a lot to do with the collaborative relationships the city's leaders have spent years creating and nurturing. This was not done by a few people in some smoke-filled back room. It was a city-wide effort.
Those relationships are Nashua's real success story. Maybe this new brand will add some polish to the prize, but it is not really what the city should be celebrating. It should be celebrating the bright future that is being charted by energetic, forward-looking citizens who love their city enough to toil enthusiastically in its service.