Southern Brands: Best and Worst State Slogans Posted by: Rod Ford | 1 Comment
Marketing and creative professionals love the word “brand.” “Manage your brand.” “Live your brand.” “Be your brand.”
Yeah, yeah. We get it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Southern states and their slogans, branding can miss the mark – broadly. Take, for example, Alabama. That fine state’s slogan is Share the Wonder. As in, “I wonder why we toss these mullets into Florida.” Or “We have so much extra wonder, y’all, we should totally share it.”
But wonder is big when it comes to branding states. Arkansas was the Wonder State for years, mostly because its citizens wondered why. Then, it was the Land of Opportunity, but its consistent ranking as one of the most impoverished states in the nation had Arkansans wondering just where those opportunities were. Today, the Land of Opportunity has given way to the Natural State. Because … well, there’s nothing augmented about it.
Florida: the Sunshine State. Much like Arkansas: the Natural State, you can’t really argue the slogan, but you could peg it a little more accurately. Florida: the Disney State. Florida: Almost Cuba. Florida: Where Age is Nothing but a Number, and That Number is Over 65. In fact, prior to being the Sunshine State, Florida was the Land of Good Living. As opposed to the Land of Snowbirds, Timeshares and Spring Break Revelry. Good living? Up to you.
Then there’s Georgia. Georgia on My Mind. Thanks to native Georgian Paula Deen, Georgia has been on everyone’s mind. Poor Georgia. Don’t fret, Georgia, we’d all rather think about your peaches.
Kentucky’s slogan? Unbridled Spirit. Maybe they’re referring to thoroughbreds and not bourbon, but we can’t be sure. Or is it hillbilly heroin? No, it’s race horses. Definitely. Of course, Kentucky’s slogan was once Where Education Pays. But Kentucky, have you ever really been known for education?
Another common thread in Southern state slogans is ambiguity. Louisiana’s was Come as You Are. Leave Different. Considering Mardi Gras, that’s a given, and if True Blood were, in fact, true, you’d leave a vampire. Today, Louisiana’s slogan is Fall in Love with Louisiana All Over Again. Whoa, hey, Louisiana, let’s not rush things. Maybe it should be, Louisiana: We Come on Way Too Strong.
Mississippi: Feels Like Coming Home. We’re just as surprised as you that the state slogan isn’t Thank God for Mississippi.
North Carolina’s is A Better Place to Be. Oh, yeah? Is that a dig at South Carolina? Cross over here South Carolinians, you know you want to. The slogan was formerly First in Flight, and they’ve been trying to bring it back down to earth ever since.
Oklahoma is OK. Oh, Oklahoma. Why so ambivalent? Oklahoma: The Trail of Tears ended here and we still feel super guilty about that. Perhaps a slogan like: Oklahoma: More than OK.
South Carolina is the state of Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places, which sets the bar fairly high for its people. Does South Carolina always feel the need to be “on”? Cue the beautiful places and smiling faces. No, no, no, no, South Carolina, once more … with feeeeeeeling!
Tennessee used to be: Sounds Good to Me. You could test that theory at Graceland in Memphis where Elvis’s entire library of songs is played over, and over, and over again, but that slogan was awfully laissez-faire for a state that’s not Louisiana. These days it’s: America at Its Best, which when it comes to food and fun, we can kind of see. That state has everything America loves, well, everything but a coastline. So close, Tennessee. So close.
Then there’s Texas. The latest slogan is It’s Like a Whole Other Country! We get it, Texas. You want to secede, and that’s probably the nicest way you’ve ever said it. There’s always the old standby: Love it or Leave It. But might we suggest, Texas: We’ve Really Got Everything We Need.
Virginia is for Lovers. That’s sweet, but if we had to rewrite your slogan it might be Virginia is for Flip-Floppers — a reference to the beaches, the moderate political opinions and mild summers. How can you not fall in love with weather like that around? Maybe we’re a tad jealous. Virginia, we’re coming over. Have cookies ready.
So to the tourism and advertising agencies which try to boil down a state’s, well, attributes into a tagline: we salute you. Remember: the Wonder State is always up for grabs.
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