Brooklyn – The New Black

My mind is on two things on this lovely summer day; the beach and M&Co’s latest Mt. Vernon Report.  Just released today, the report takes a look at the factors that help shape and change the reputation of a city or country.

A destination often conjures up vivid imagery and strong emotional responses from people.  For example, say “Paris” and one thinks of romance and fine dining.  “California” and visions of tanned surfers or Hollywood moguls may go dancing through your head.

Some of these reputations are deserved and others, as you will read in the MVR, are not.  Some are a product of a concerted effort or campaign, while others, are more organic in nature.  Take Brooklyn.

There was a time when only one type of business was conducted in Brooklyn…and it wasn’t

the kind written about in the Wall Street Journal.  Just five years ago, the island of Manhattan remained the only borough to be a mecca of ad agencies, PR firms and marketing groups – think Mad Men.  Brooklyn was edgy and hip, but on the fringe.  Some called it “Crooklyn.”  But things are starting to change.

Adweek,which covers media news, recently reported that the borough “[is experiencing] the unfolding creative revolution—a reconfiguration of geography and function, in which creativity gravitates to new talent, a different vision, better tools (and those who can use them), and cheaper real estate.”

Indeed, Brooklyn has come into its own.  The areas of DUMBO (down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass), Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint are flourishing with creative agencies and, government data indicates the area is becoming more prosperous.  Between the 2000 Census and the Census Bureau’s most recent update, the number of households in Brooklyn with a combined income of at least $150,000 more than doubled, while the overall population increased only slightly.The Brooklyn name has even evolved into a marketing tool of its own. For example, take Brooklyn Brewing Company, which makes the sought after Brooklyn Lager.

Brooklyn didn’t intentionally seek to change its reputation.  A slow transformation started sometime in the last decade.  Driven out of the city by high rents, fears of another 9/11-type attack and, a desire to find “the next place”, Manhattanites (as well as non-New Yorkers) headed – and keep heading –  to Brooklyn.

This shouldn’t be surprising.  Historically, after major financial events such as our recent recession or, the Great Depression, bohemian creativity flourishes.  The dramatic change in life forces innovative thinking to overcome difficulties for business people and opens up new subject matters for writers and artists.  Look at the popolarity of Swing music and film in the 1930s, for examplBrooklyn, like Colombia (which I write about in this issues of the Mt.  Vernon Report) experienced a reputational shift only because it stayed true to its roots while embracing progressive change.That is probably the most important message in reputation communications.  One cannot change the reputation of a brand, country, city,  company or individual by just marketing different messages or through new creative campaigns. Now more than ever, consumers are skeptical, making the job of truly changing a reputation even more challenging.  The message needs to be real and authentic.

We’d love to have you join the conversation – tweet your thoughts on the latest Mt. Vernon Report  @Morrissey_Co, #MVRSummer2011.


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