Lincoln rebranding inspired by Archrival founders’ “FLYOVER” talk
Live music on downtown street corners every Friday.* Fun and quirky messages written on the city’s bike paths. A random day of free downtown parking for all, courtesy of a local business.
They’re all ideas that help make up Lincoln’s rebranding campaign, Life is Right in Lincoln, which was created by Lincoln marketing agency Archrival in partnership with the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
But what many people don’t know is Archrival cofounders Clint! Runge and Charlie Hull were talking about Lincoln’s branding problem long before they were approached by the Chamber of Commerce to create the campaign.
The reason, according to Runge (left) and Hull, was because the state — the people, businesses, government agencies and tourism departments — wasn't doing enough to buck its stereotype of being a place where nothing happens.
“We thought, ‘Someone needs to do something.’ But I never thought we should be the ones to do it,” Runge said in a phone interview last month.
He cited Austin, Texas as a city that has easily bucked stereotypes.
“Texas has a reputation. But yet you don’t think of Austin that way,” Runge said. “We gotta do that. Because so far we’re putting out the Cornhuskers and we’re acting like that.”
“We definitely have a lot of established businesses," Runge said, "but the one story that hasn’t been told is that being young in Lincoln is a great.”
Bulu Box founder Paul Jarrett was the perfect candidate for a video appearance, having recently moved to Lincoln from San Francisco to launch his new company. Jarrett said he was appeared in the video because it was an easy way for Bulu Box to show support for the entrepreneurship in Nebraska and attract young talent to the state.
“Here we aren't just part of a startup scene," Jarrett said. "We're building and defining that community.”
Festive signs decorated downtown Lincoln for Independence Day as part of the Life is Right campaign. Photos of the signs got over a million hits on Reddit.
Runge stressed that the events of the campaign – like the free parking day and downtown concerts, to name a couple – are what really make the brand come to life.
“A lot of people are actually looking at it as a graphic identity, but really a graphic identity of a brand is pretty small,” he said. “It plays an important role in organization, but think about any city you’ve ever been to. The logo doesn’t really matter. It’s the people, places, and things they do.”
Runge said if the city wants to change the way it is perceived, it’s going to take effort from everyone.
“When you get an established reputation, it’s hard to overcome," he said. "You actually need everyone working to do that.”
*Update July 12, 11:05 am. Hear Lincoln concerts are performed downtown once a week in the summer time. A previous version of this story indicated the concerts were performed once a month.