By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
The gallery wall in the Four Corner Center was vibrant with color.
In the wide margin of a photo of what looks to be a daughter and father, the viewer is urged to: “think bold, think genuine, think big, think green, think beautiful, think BG.”
That final admonition is in green, and is accompanied by the outline of the state of Ohio.
This is the vision for a new brand for the City of Bowling Green developed by Handshoe Brand + Design.
The images are meant to signify what makes Bowling Green, Ohio, different from other small Ohio towns, different from other college towns, different from Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Leslie Handshoe Suter, of Handshoe Brand + Design, said that Bowling Green faces the same problem that other places face. They all tend to think about themselves in the same way. What makes Bowling Green different?
“Our job is to find the genuine authentic message that tells the world who they are,” Suter said.
So the company did research, and what that found was “that BG for a small town is a very forward thinking place. That differentiates them. They genuinely think differently.”
She added: “Bowling Green is dedicated to renewable energy. Other small towns don’t care.”
And the community is “open and welcoming,” unlike “most small towns.”
The city, Suter concluded, is “very, very different in the way they approach life, even for a college town. We think that’s what makes BG different.”
That’s captured in a basic green in the logo as well as a blast of colors elsewhere. Though one color, orange, notably doesn’t get any greater play than the others.
While the university is an important part of the community, it is one element, and shouldn’t cast a shadow over the rest, Suter said. Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University are interwoven.
“It’s extremely important to have a brand that encompasses the whole community,” said Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau,
The words play on the sound of BG, using alliteration to tie their meanings with the place.
Chamber said getting a professionally done brand has been “on my bucket list.”
The city had various slogans before, but “it was always things we came up with on our own.”
Now, she said, “we’re in a place with a little more funding.” That enabled it to bring in a professional branding company to help with the project.
That additional funding was provided by an increase in the city’s hotel and motel tax, from 3 percent to 4 percent.
Patrick Nelson, director of the Bowen Thompson Student Union on campus and president of the CVB board, noted that the increase has not had a negative effect on the hospitality business in the city.
The search for the firm began about 18 months. Handshoe was selected, he said, because it not only works with communities but also destination resorts.
Nelson said he likes the way Handshoe has captured the vibrancy and energy of the community.
This year will be devoted to getting the community to accept and adopt the new brand.
“We’re focusing within the community first,” Suter said. “We want to instill a sense of pride. Sometimes if you use a campaign on the outside and it doesn’t reflect what’s inside, it comes to seem inauthentic. So we’re going to speak to people first.”
Once the brand is accepted here, Suter said, then a broader campaign can be launched.
Even as it is, she said, the Think BGOH brand is something Chambers can start rolling out at tourism conventions she attends.
The logo and branding images will be available on the CVB’s website, so companies and events can download them and use them as a secondary brand.
Nelson and Chambers said the idea is not to supplant the existing images, but to add to them, and help them tap into the energy generated by the Think BGOH campaign.
“Our job is to enhance and support,” Nelson said.