December 11, 2014 | Branding
Maine has a reputation as a terrible place to do business (at least according to Forbes magazine, which places us at #49 out of 50 on the best places to do business).
But since I love Maine, I put a lot of my time into groups such as Maine Startup & Create Week, Envision Maine and House of Genius who are working to improve the business climate of Maine especially for smaller, entrepreneurial businesses that are growing in Maine.
The exciting thing about getting to know the startup and business community in Maine is unearthing all the hidden gems. The businesses that are already successful and the ones that have great ideas for the next best thing.
As I see so many of these businesses, I realize that a big part of Maine’s problem is that we don’t celebrate these successes. I think it’s part of the understated Maine culture. We don’t like to brag.
Maine is more than vacationland
Maine has a great quality of life. It’s summed up in our slogan: The Way Life Should Be.
However, this “life” seems to be focused a bit too much on our status as “Vacationland”. We do a good job promoting coming here to visit our lighthouses, beaches, mountains and lakes. Now it’s time to effectively promote Maine as a place to live AND to start or grow a business.
We need to make this vision real.
Recently, Kerem Durdag gave an energetic presentation at an Envision Maine Dreamers & Doers event. He showed a video that he put together to promote all the innovative things going on in Maine right now. I thought you’d find it inspirational.
Yes, we can rebrand Maine
What would happen if the Office of Tourism was replaced (or added to) with the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation? What if we spent real dollars promoting Maine’s appeal as a place not only to vacation, but to live, raise a family and grow a business? A place with great job opportunities.
According to Kerem’s talk, the state spends about half a billion dollars on nearly 200 different economic development agencies, from government-run agencies to non-profits, etc. What if a piece of that pie went to effectively rebranding the state?
I understand branding. I realize that you cannot entirely create Maine’s brand. But I know from effectively repositioning all types of businesses and organizations that you can better position yourself and showcase your strengths. You can also successfully rebrand to highlight—even just the start of—the direction you really want to go in.
Organizations brand and rebrand themselves all the time. Startups, who have no history, create stories. Companies who are changing directions outwardly signal their change through their brand identity and then highlight each and every success, however small.
Maine can do this too.