Tuesday, August 4, 2009

If a Tree Falls in the Plaza...

A recent story in the Fresno Bee, post on the Beehive and subsequent discussion that ensued has prompted me to remind everyone involved to open the Fresno Brand Platform Workbook. The City of Fresno is fixin' to cut down some trees in Eaton Plaza and people are in an uproar. Has the City pissed off tree huggers? Are tree huggers looking at the bug picture? My answer to both of these rhetorical questions is "I Don't Care." You see, I would rather use the issue of diseased (allegedly) tree removal as an opportunity for brand reflection.

I previously posted an overview of the Fresno Brand Platform. It is a place brand built on authentic truths and not ideal reality. It is a platform built on six distinct pillars:
  • Land Stewardship
  • Authentic America
  • Big City Amenities
  • Small Town Ease
  • Diverse Culture
  • Spirit of Innovation
Well, well, well...it looks like the issue of tree removal is totally against being good land stewards, right? Not necessarily. If the trees are truly diseased, then it is in the best interest of the land to remove them. If the trees use an unhealthy amount of water, then maybe a different (more drought tolerant) type needs to be planted. I think the solution can be found by engaging all six pillars and not just one.

Fresno will achieve it's goal of an improved image, if and when people start using the pillars as a way to hold others accountable. Use the language.

The cool thing about the brand is that it can be used beyond marketing. These pillars should be used to shape policy, impact budgeting, and develop employee relations programs.

Living the brand is not about clever messaging.

So, what decision should be made about the trees? Use the pillars in your justification.


  1. travis,
    great post.

    let me think this through using the pillars
    •Land Stewardship - if they're diseased, not good use of land or water. if they're not, and it's a decision about grass on the field, well we shouldn't play ball.
    •Authentic America - are these native trees? if not, well, that's not very authentic.
    •Big City Amenities - big cities should have trees, shade, parks. trees stay.
    •Small Town Ease - well, this one is something i'm not sure how to factor in.
    •Diverse Culture - all of our people can enjoy the public space, and i suppose every culture enjoys trees. but, we also want to represent diverse tree species (that are native)
    •Spirit of Innovation - maybe they can use the cut down trees for a creative person. or, perhaps employ an agency that will come up with a creative watering system for the new trees.

    the pillars are helpful, but i don't think anyone is going to trust the city unless they're assured that probably the first pillar is true.

  2. Ed,
    Great comments and thought behind brand alignment. I completely agree with you regarding the important of Land Stewardship in this case. Trust plays a key role, especially when gov't is generally not trusted by the populous.

    The Small Town Ease can relate to the access the community has with its elected officials. In a situation like this, that access is paramount to engagement.

  3. I completely agree with you regarding the important of Land Stewardship in this case.
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