The formation of former Mayor Coleman’s Bicentennial Committee in 2007 coalesced critical conversations into action about Columbus’ image. The committee recognized the need to develop a common story of how the Columbus Region is presented to both external and internal audiences.

This need was reinforced with the launch of Columbus 2020, an aggressive economic development strategy focused on expanding existing businesses, growing new enterprises and attracting companies from around the world to the 11-county Columbus Region.

For three years, the Mayor’s Bicentennial Image and Marketing Committee and the Compete Columbus Tourism, Entertainment and Arts Cluster engaged public and private organizations to define the Columbus Brand Essence, a singularly focused message that is competitively differentiating, uplifting, authentic and genuine.

Columbus-based marketing firm Ologie facilitated conversations to gain insight into how a variety of stakeholders view the Columbus Region. They distilled a great amount of research – including direct input from thousands of Columbus citizens, community organizations, businesses and target audiences – ultimately revealing two key community characteristics, that Columbus is “open” and “smart.”

The characteristic of “open” rose to the top because the Columbus Region is a supportive, progressive community with a vibrant, open-minded, spirit. The area’s population has steadily increased, never once experiencing a decline in its entire history. Seven percent of Columbus residents were born outside of the U.S., and 21 percent of growth in the metro area came from international migration.

The cost of living is 10 percent lower than the national average, and the citizenry is young and educated – over 40 percent of residents hold an associate’s degree or higher, and the median age is 35. In recent years, Columbus has been ranked the No. 1 Opportunity City by Forbes, achieved a perfect score on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index and has the 14th largest LGBT concentration in the U.S.

As a region with 140,000 college students and nearly 60 campuses including The Ohio State University (one of the largest land grant universities), research institutions like Battelle and OCLC, and a cadre of science and technology-driven businesses like Cardinal Health and Honda, it makes sense that our distinction as a smart community was also revealed. The area is home to the headquarters of 15 Fortune 1000 companies, dozens of world-renowned brands and R&D operations that are driving change and innovation in industries around the world.

In recent years, Columbus was named the Most Intelligent Community in the World by the Intelligent Community Forum and recently won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, challenging Columbus to be the community that will define what it means to be a smart city and become a model for other cities.

Columbus area citizens have more exposure to diverse perspectives and ideas, and the people who brought them

Columbus has an open-minded approach to life and business. It’s a smart region with a progressive attitude, where people are free to go out on a limb. Where diversity isn’t just a state of being, but a state of mind. Columbus is made real through ideas, lifestyles and neighborhoods—every day. Because we share the philosophy that Columbus is open to all, we are always thinking forward, always thinking big, and always open to new ideas. In Columbus, we are not only able—we are encouraged—to thrive.
In January 2011, in an unprecedented collaboration, the primary partner organizations working together to drive the marketing of Columbus forward hired Fahlgren Mortine as a single agency of record to take “smart and open” and bring it to life in strategic and tactical marketing and communications programs. Born directly out of the “smart and open” positioning, the ColumbUS mark was designed to reflect the city’s inclusivity and togetherness through the emphasis on the “US” within the logo. The US is represented in a contrasting color in order to signify not only the region’s unity, but also its position in the domestic and global marketplace. The star represents Columbus as the capital of Ohio.

The ColumbUS logo and brand elements were first seen by the public via 200Columbus the Bicentennial, a year-long celebration of the city’s 200th birthday. Because the Bicentennial was designed to inspire community pride and engagement in the city’s progress, increasing vitality and events, 2012 served not only as a launching pad for the brand work but also the delivery of a consistent Columbus story across organizations.

There are many organizations and sectors that talk about our community every day. Civic organizations, the arts community, the corporations, the many universities and medical centers and others rely on how Columbus is thought of to attract businesses, students, patrons and others.

Columbus competes in globally. The economic implications of attracting business, retaining business, hosting meetings and events, attracting top executives, educators and physicians and encouraging college graduates to remain in the area are significant. Our success makes the difference between thriving in the next century or staying status quo. Together, we can make a huge positive impact when we express our story in a consistent manner, speak with one voice and build further collaboration.

And there is another important benefit – that of community pride. Our citizens can become ambassadors for our community and help tell the world about Columbus. We’ve got a thriving creative class, an energetic young professional community, and invested civic and corporate leaders who all want to do their part to amplify this message. As residents, we must believe in ourselves and be proud of where we live, work and play.

Our goal is to be recognized nationally as a leading place to live and work, so that we can attract more business development, tourism and talent to our region, and build community pride.
You can! Any sector, organization or individual promoting Columbus as a place to live, visit, attend school, raise a family or start a business is welcome and encouraged to use the materials provided on this website. Is something missing that you’d like to have to help you participate? Let us know!
The elements on this website are intended for use, in the proper context, by organizations that have a vested interest and need to promote what’s great about Columbus. All materials are free, unless otherwise noted.