Glendale boring? Some think so

Glendale has no identity, but that's about to change.

According to a report to the City Council on Tuesday, a citywide survey found that Glendale has a positive reputation among residents and visitors, but that it is boring and overlooked. City officials hope to erase that problem with the next phase of a city branding effort.

Kari Harris of North Star Destination Strategies, the Nashville, Tenn., company tapped by the Redevelopment Agency to lead the branding effort, said a survey of upscale Angelenos who live outside the city shows people know Glendale is between Pasadena and Burbank. But, she said, "They really don't know where Glendale is. It's a clean city, but there isn't much to do."

Harris reeled off the city's best qualities according to separate surveys of 209 residents, 128 civic leaders and 200 people who live outside of Glendale, but north of the Santa Monica (10) Freeway: A great location, a healthy business mix, cultural diversity and a well-run municipality. Survey respondents also said enhanced entertainment options would be the best way to draw more people here.

But, Harris said, "The rich, textured nuances of your neighborhoods and business districts are not being communicated."

North Star's job is to change that with a logo, catchphrase, street banners, marketing materials or all of the above as part of a two-year marketing effort.

She used the reputation of high-profile manufacturers to illustrate Glendale's options. Procter & Gamble makes several famous products, such as Tide detergent, but most people don't know Proctor & Gamble is behind them, she said.

Burt's Bees makes consumer goods, all of which bear that name. Nabisco makes famous snacks that have their own identities, but are also known to be made by Nabisco.

Glendale has shopping areas, corporate headquarters and is seeking to create an arts district and enhanced creative corridor near the movie studios.

"So which model suits Glendale? We believe it is independent brands underneath the umbrella brand," Harris said.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman said the survey results validated the need for a city brand.

"Talk to anybody who has a retail shop, who sells real estate, who has a restaurant," Friedman said. "I believe this is an important part in helping our city compete."

Representatives of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, Americana at Brand and Glendale Galleria also endorsed the plan.

"We have a unique opportunity. While the economy is on the front side of improving…we can get geared up," said Rick Lemmo, vice-president of community relations for Caruso Affiliated, which owns the Americana at Brand.

North Star is expected to unveil its specific marketing plan and initiatives within four or five months, Harris said.

"The ball is on the tee at this point," said Mayor Ara Najarian. "Let's hope for a shot straight down the fairway."

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