The Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau doesn’t want people to see Des Moines. It wants people to catch it.
The tourism group, which unveiled its new logo and branding campaign at its annual celebration Tuesday evening, decided to leave behind the passive “see” in favor on the more active “catch,” as well as to add bolder colors and more images to its logo.
“We don’t want people to see Des Moines; we want them to come visit it,” said Greg Edwards, president and CEO of the visitors bureau. “The old branding was effective, but it was established in the 1990s. It was just time for a change.”
It hired the Des Moines area marketing and communications firm ZLR Ignition to research how people view the city and put together a plan. ZLR conducted more than 500 interviews with Des Moines residents, past visitors and people who have never been to the city.
“We found there was a gap between perception and reality. People who have been here think of us as a true city,” Edwards said. “People who haven’t been here think of us as an ag town, boring, vanilla.”
The organization’s findings aren’t anything new: Iowans can be too modest when it comes to marketing themselves.
However, now that it has a better understanding of how visitors view the city, the bureau can do a better job of bringing people in, Edwards said.
It plans to do that by pursuing an aggressive advertising campaign, using TV, print and the Internet, said Tiffany Tauscheck, vice president of marketing and development.
The organization will continue to go after the core family decision makers -- mothers 25 to 54 -- within a 250-mile radius of Des Moines, but it will also look to lure in groups and young professionals looking for a weekend getaway, she said.
The marketing group found that using phrases like “small-town charm,” and “small-town convenience” aren’t the best ways to get visitors into the city because many out-of-town guests view the descriptions negatively, Edwards said.
And although it’s long, the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau will keep its name as is. Other cities’ convention and visitors bureaus have changed their names to catchy slogans such as Destination D.C. and Experience Columbus.
That’s because working together with outlying suburbs as the Greater Des Moines region works in its favor.
“Research shows that when people come here, even if they stay in Ankeny, they go home and tell people they went to Des Moines,” Edwards said.
In addition to its new logo, the bureau’s website and flagship publication, See Des Moines, will be changed to Catch Des Moines.
“We’re going to live and breath the new name,” Edwards said. “Even the way we answer the phones will be different because we have to be brand ambassadors.”