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Florida's new business brand forges ahead after rough start

11:40 AM, May 29, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida's controversial new business logo has received mixed reactions this year, but the state is standing by the design and says it's getting results.

Gov. Rick Scott and Enterprise Florida President/CEO Gray Swoope unveiled the logo four months ago - an orange tie for the "i" in Florida with the slogan: "Florida: The Perfect Climate for Business."

The business brand was the result of more than a thousand interviews, surveys and focus groups. Its mission is to sell Florida to the world as a great place for business.

Some critics bashed the design. They called the tie logo sexist, generic and outdated.

State lawmakers weren't sold either. The Legislature rejected Enterprise Florida's request for $3 million to help pay for a marketing campaign.

Now the agency is moving ahead with a scaled-back, $1 million campaign using private donations.

Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Medley thinks the results will convince lawmakers to support the program next year.

"In the very limited run that we've already done from the campaign, we're already yielding leads and so we'll be able to demonstrate that it's working and I think that will mean a lot to them."

The state of Florida spent $380,000 to develop the first-ever business brand. The marketing firm On Ideas in Jacksonville is helping coordinate the campaign, which launches in full July 1.

It will include print and online ads in publications such as Site Selection magazine, Area Development and Chief Executive.

"More ads will be placed in very targeted publications. We have ads online already across a number of business news-type applications and then you'll see a few more very unique ways of pushing out this message," said Medley.

She believes the campaign is resonating with the people who matter most when it comes to attracting and expanding business in Florida. Medley said the campaign is not necessarily directed at Floridians, but at business leaders and site selectors outside the state or country who influence expansion plans.

"Among those audiences we have certainly had a good response."

As to the critics who skewered the tie logo as an insult to female business owners, Medley is philosophical.

"Everyone has an opinion and it's difficult to get 12 people to agree on what they want for lunch much less to get 19 million people to agree in what appeals to them in a graphic symbol. We did this the right way. We talked to those people that we would be focusing this campaign toward."

Medley argues the tie logo is the most recognized business icon that exists. She said it's not about what you wear for business, but simply what it represents: business.

The campaign aims to make people think about Florida business differently. It's not just the sun-baked beaches and tourism attractions that attract 90 million visitors a year.

Medley said Florida owns the fourth largest economy in the U.S., ranks second in aviation and aerospace, third for high tech businesses, and has no personal income tax.

"We're building on what's known about Florida, adding to what's unknown about Florida and then being able to communicate that with an attitude of pride."

Dave Heller

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