MBJ: Official Memphis brand initiative launched
After three years of ongoing efforts, an official Memphis Brand Initiative organization has launched.
According to president and CMO David French, the Memphis Brand Initiative is a newly formed organization to elevate the city as a global brand recognized as a destination of choice for tourists, talent, businesses and families.
In 2014, a group of Memphis leaders came together with the goal of elevating the city’s global reputation by defining the city’s essential brand identity and communicating it in a strategic and coordinated way, French said.
Mike Glenn, formerly of FedEx Corp., and Rick Shadyac, CEO of ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, guided a steering committee during the first phase of the effort, which incorporated local and national research.
The new 501(c)(3) was launched to ensure ownership of the initiative, as well as allow coordination across industries, according to French.
As president and CMO, French will lead the organization’s day-to-day operations. The group also includes a board of directors led by chair Ekundayo Bandele, the founder and CEO of Hattiloo Theatre; co-chair Emily Callahan, CMO of ALSAC/St. Jude; and treasurer Blair Taylor, president of Memphis Tomorrow.
The Memphis Brand Initiative will “collaborate closely with a variety of individuals, organizations and partners, building upon the terrific work that is already taking place, to help tell the story of Memphis in ways that have the most impact, leveraging a broad spectrum of marketing and communications strategies and tools,” French said.
Prior to moving to Memphis with his wife, Melanie, the two lived in Washington, D.C., where he led the branding effort for America’s national parks, including the recent centennial anniversary of the National Park Service. Before that, he helped lead communications at MTV.
The Memphis Brand Initiative staff, including French, is four people who will work across marketing and communications. French said most have been living in Memphis for some time, if not their entire lives, though he declined to name the other staff members.
The organization’s budget “is still in development,” but French said the organization is “excited to have broad support from the community that is contributing in many important ways.”
“Branding is a team sport, and Memphis is fortunate that so many people have joined in to help so far: civic organizations, young professionals and talent recruitment groups, businesses and economic development organizations and professionals, the tourism and hospitality industry, arts and entertainment groups, marketing and communiations agencies and grassroots organizations,” he said.
The organization will be housed in offices leased from Memphis in May (MIM) International Festival.
MIM occupies the first two floors of the Front Street building, and the third floor was vacant. Holt said MIM was not actively seeking a tenant, but that the Memphis Brand Initiative was a very good fit for the space.