“Be who you are and it will show the way.”
Pretty epic quote right? Branding is a very simple process. What is a brand? Why do we do it? What does it mean?
It’s simple, really. Branding is becoming the thing that is your soul, your culture, your authenticity and your reason-for-being and why you are what you are. Think about it, a brand is not a slogan or a shoulder phrase, it is the essence of your company, community or your culture.
There have been a lot of brand and product failures like “new Coke” or the Edsel. And we have had some of those here in Modesto. From the ill-fated slogans in days past like “Nobody’s got Modesto’s goat” to the recent “Family Owned and Operated” none have really addressed what our brand is and how our brand can benefit our civic pride, community, travel and tourism – not to mention our core sense of being.
How can our brand elevate us and make us proud?
Let’s start with the basics: who are we.
We are a fantastic agricultural community that plays a big role in feeding the world. Cool huh!
Yes, but there are many communities in California that can claim that honor.
We are home to a major winemaker. Also true, but a lot of wine is made in Napa, Manteca, Ripon, Lodi, Sonoma, Paso Robles and other communities.
Farm-to-fork, locovore food? Nice, but Napa and Sacramento and recently Stockton are staking that one out and have cool places like the Oxbow Market or entire festivals devoted to it.
Wait, how about the “Home of American Graffiti”? Bingo.
There is only one Modesto where George Lucas made his breakthrough movie. Now we’re getting somewhere.
What do we say we are? We are the city with many amenities that has small-town values. Yes, that is a classic Graffiti ’50s feeling.
Concerts in the park with MoBand? That is a classic community experience and unique to Modesto and the town square of the mid-century.
The legendary Gene Winfield, one of the first custom-car creators, started building and creating his beauties in his chicken coop before moving into a shop at 451 Tully. This is real.
Tenth and 11th Streets in downtown Modesto? These are the streets where Modesto cruised and where Lucas was inspired to make a movie about this rite of passage, this mobile “mating ritual”
That slappin’ bass sound of of Rock Around the Clock you hear in the opening frames of American Graffiti? Straight from Modesto, California, circa 1938. Fred Maddox, of the Maddox Brothers and Rose, created the string-slappin’ sound by hitting his big stand-up bass, creating the beats that put the “rock” in rock n’ roll – which was being broadcast to the world through our own KTRB radio.
All of these roots run right back here to our very own Modesto USA. Many cities have to fabricate their story, ours is already amazing.
There might be other Modestos in the world (actually, there’s one, in Illinois), but there is only one Modesto USA, A Classic American City.
We are the birthplace of Rockabilly, the home of American Graffiti and the birthplace of the largest winery in the world.
Modesto is where candy-apple cars were created and cruised and all of this was captured and wrapped up in celluloid by our very own George Lucas and promoted around the world.
Those opening scenes of a young Luke Skywalker trying to escape the planet Tatooine, as he dreams of doing something bigger, are the stories that were created right here in Modesto. So, yes friends, we are the #homeofstarwars and the small-town feeling that gave us E.&J. Gallo Winery, the Cruise, Rockabilly, American Graffiti, Star Wars and the produce that feeds the world.
It’s who we are.
Branding is authenticity. So let’s take our place behind the wheel and be the city that we can be and celebrate who we are. This is what makes a “Top 10” city. We can do it, so let’s go! Let’s fly our flag and be exactly who we are.
Chris Murphy is publisher of Modesto View; this was extrapolated from his article there.