How did Catch Des Moines become Catch Des Moines?

I sat down recently with Greg Edwards, the president and CEO of Catch Des Moines, for a behind-the-scenes look at the work the organization does to bring events and visitor dollars to Central Iowa.

You may have noticed a series of stories that the Business Record has published lately from those conversations with Edwards and others.

One thing we spoke about that didn’t fit in the story but that I found interesting was the history behind how Catch Des Moines got its name.

When Edwards came to Des Moines in late 2000, Catch Des Moines was the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau. Back then there were studies that showed the name Convention and Visitors Bureau sounded too governmental and bureaucratic. 

Abbreviating it to CVB didn’t help, Edwards said. People confused it with a pharmacy or maybe a television station.

So convention and visitors bureaus nationwide began branding campaigns, and organizations started using names that included terms like Visit, Discover or Experience.

“There’s a lot of those, so about 12 years ago we put out a [request for proposal] to do a branding study,” Edwards said. “We put it out nationally, and we ended up hiring locally. We hired ZLR at the time and they did all kinds of interviews with people who live here, visitors who came here, people who had thought about coming here but had never been here, all this different data and research and stuff.”

When they were done they came to Edwards and his team with their proposal.

“We said, OK, what is it, and they said Catch Des Moines,” Edwards said. “We’re like, huh? Catch Des Moines. No one else is using that. It’s clever. Our old website was See Des Moines, and they said you don’t want people to see Des Moines, you want people to catch Des Moines. You want them to come here physically and experience Des Moines. And Des Moines is on the uprise, and look at how vibrant it is. And we were like, yeah, that’s cool.”

Edwards said not everyone bought into the idea.

“Some people around the table started saying, ‘But what about people [who are] going to say Catch Des Moines, catch the flu, catch a cold, catch this and catch that,’ and we were like, no, we’re not going there with that, so we did it and we stuck with it,” he said.

Edwards said he thinks it has worked well, despite some skepticism.

“I think some of my colleagues across the country may have chuckled a bit under their breath, but I think we’re the only Catch out there, and we are a catch, so that’s the story.”