San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Steve Lambert: San Gabriel Valley looking for proper slogan

Posted: 05/22/2010 11:22:02 PM PDT

Years ago, my home state tried to capture some tourism dollars with this catchy little musical slogan: “Just outside Chicago there’s a state called Illinois.”

These days, we all know that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

But my favorite dubbing came from a newspaper reader in Delaware who, responding to a contest in the local press a number of years back, suggested that the state change its motto to “close to where you’d rather be” – which, if you’ve ever been to the Land of Biden, speaks for itself.

The irony is that Delaware already has several slogans: “The First State” (first to ratify the Constitution), “The Company State” (so christened by Ralph Nader for DuPont’s influence on all things Delaware) and “The Diamond State” (I’m not sure why … maybe because some DuPont heiress wore diamonds).

Which brings us, in a roundabout way, to the San Gabriel Valley, and new efforts to put our tourism industry on the map.

In recent weeks, a group led by Cynthia Kurtz and the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership has been batting around ideas to attract more visitors, increase hotel occupancy and put the Valley’s hidden gems in a platinum setting for all to see.

That’s really what it’s about – visibility. From the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens to Old Pasadena, Santa Anita to the Pacific Palms Resort, the San Gabriel Valley has no shortage of destination spots for people with time and money to spend. But while some are world renowned, they tend to operate in the shadow of Greater L.A.’s major attractions.

Collaboration and branding can begin to change that, and it starts with determining who we are and what connects us. Could it be Route 66, which runs through the Valley and offers plenty of branding opportunities? Or is it our weather, our relative affordability or, very simply, our location?

It’s probably all of the above – and more – which makes coming up with a clear, powerful, digestible message all the more arduous.

One thing’s for sure: We’re not “close” to where you’d rather be, we “are” where you’d rather be.

Sorry Delaware.

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