Columbus searches for its identity

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Nashville has country music, Indianapolis has Indy racing, but what is Columbus’ trademark?

Bill Faust is the Chief Strategy Officer for Ologie, a branding agency, so he knows a little bit about pinpointing an identity. He says Columbus has something, he just can’t articulate it. Instead, he says, the city has a story thread that connects several characteristics.

“If I think of organizations that are broad the really good ones have kind of a big idea that they can wrap stuff around and everyone has a connection to that,” he said.

Jeff Earnheart is the Senior Recruiter for JP Morgan Chase so it’s his responsibility to convey Columbus’ image to potential employees. He says Columbus is a big city with a small town feel.

“It is a great place to raise your family,” he said. “Your kids can walk to schools. Even if they’re on a bus and they go to school, you have a sense of smaller communities that fit inside of the whole.”

He says it’s sometimes a challenge to convince people to move to Columbus, but they often stay for the lower cost of living and family atmosphere.

On the other hand Michael Reed, a local artist, says he wants the characteristics of a larger city.

“We need mass transit and we need density and it’s the chicken and the egg problem. Which comes first, the density or the mass transit,” he said. “It’s an interesting conundrum, but we need things like that.”

Reed says working as an artist in Columbus is no different than New York or Paris. He says Columbus residents will help define the community by pursuing their goals at the local level. And he says a shifting the focus from the suburban lifestyle will help.

“The experience of the suburbs unfortunately is the suburbs and its people living in their homes and their isolated and they are there to raise families,” Reed said. “We’ve just gotta invest in the downtown.”

Reed says an investment in the downtown area will attract more young professionals and retiring baby boomers.

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