Branding… Find the Essence of San Jose.

San Jose suffers from an identity crises which makes branding it difficult. Cities can be defined by their citizens, or by their cultural fabric, or their environment, or even a combination of these things. But the common theme in branding a city, is the ability to find the essence of that city. An essence that the people of that city can get behind and believe in. An essence that advertises expectations to those who may visit.

So where to start? What is San Jose’s essence? San Jose’s tagline is “The Capital of Silicon Valley.” Yet just typing “San Jose the capital of” in Google, will bring up “Costa Rica,” even “California,” before “Silicon Valley.”  So beyond the effectiveness of it, is the tagline even befitting for the city?

Is the essence civic innovation, or perhaps it’s the city’s potential, or endless opportunities within the city that draw in people worldwide? Or maybe it’s as simple as the weather? San Jose’s essence is all of those things and more, just like all other major cities. Yes, San Jose is diverse, but so are other cities. “Diversity” isn’t enough and it isn’t a sexy term in branding.

The essence of San Jose, is its potential, which is continuously evolving and changing, much like the greater Silicon Valley. It is this constant change in ideas, civic innovation, design principles, technology, and small businesses that is appealing. Come to San Jose to try something new, or be the face of a movement, or prototype a new product, or create a new technology, or start a craft brewery, or serve unique food from a food truck. San Jose’s essence is the endless evolving potential, limited only by the imagination. This is that essence that can capture the people of San Jose, something that they can be proud of and something that can be branded into the city’s fabric for the world to embrace.

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4 thoughts on “Branding… Find the Essence of San Jose.

  • Law

    Fair enough, but I think it’s hard to brand potential without sounding like the city is slacking and mediocre. Taglines, branding, etc. is for the rest of the world. San Jose needs to focus on how to make its people happy to be here. Are we promoting our own people enough? Is there community support for local bands? Enough local festivals that are uniquely San Jose? Anything at all to make people in surrounding cities want to come to San Jose for reasons other than that “it happens to be in San Jose?”

    South Bay is a huge blend of all the different cities, and San Jose touches most of them. I can see areas of San Jose (e.g. San Jose, Almaden, Valley Fair) come together before the entire city of San Jose does.

  • Fair enough, but I think it’s hard to brand potential without sounding like the city is slacking and mediocre. Taglines, branding, etc. is for the rest of the world. San Jose needs to focus on how to make its people happy to be here.

    Are we promoting our own people enough? Is there community support for local bands? Enough local festivals that are uniquely San Jose? Anything at all to make people in surrounding cities want to come to San Jose for reasons other than that “it happens to be in San Jose?”

    South Bay is a huge blend of all the different cities, and San Jose touches most of them. I can see areas of San Jose (e.g. San Jose, Alameda, Santana Row) come together before the entire city of San Jose does.

  • Observer

    I’m not an SJ resident, I can’t afford it, but I think of SJ’s essence&opportunity as being the will to reinvent, plus abundant space for doing so. Plus ideally also a readiness to experiment, to do rapid urban prototyping?
    (For example, what could SJ do, to enliven its core and bring down its cost of housing?)

    • Observer

      (A downside note: putting a diacritic over San Jose’s e is like Richmond’s having a Harbour Way, or a store’s name including an exclamation mark.)

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