CONCORD -- Weeks after the City Council called for polishing the city's tarnished image, a new branding campaign from local hotels downplays "Concord" in favor of promoting the nondescript "Diablo Valley" as a great place to hear live music, take a hike and sample microbrews.

The colorful, kaleidoscopic logo -- which includes the tagline "Defying Expectations" and in smaller type, "Concord, California" -- will appear on billboards, hotel sales materials, a website and in magazine ads.

Two council members weren't thrilled with the name.

"I guess I'm a hopeless revisionist here, but then I'm on the Concord City Council not the Diablo Valley city council," Councilman Edi Birsan said dryly, "so my recommendation is, very simply, just say Concord's Diablo Valley and solve two problems."

Above: A logo for a new marketing campaign to draw visitors Concord.
Above: A logo for a new marketing campaign to draw visitors Concord.

The campaign is designed to draw tourists and conventions to the city's hotels. The Concord tourism business improvement district has been collecting a 3 percent tax on room rates from nine hotels in and around the city since June. The group plans to spend the estimated $600,000 to $800,000 in annual tax revenue on direct marketing and advertising, according to Matt Hohenstreet, a Visit Concord board member.

The advertising firm discouraged board members from choosing such hackneyed phrases as "Discover Concord," Hohenstreet said.

Rather than emphasizing Concord, the board opted for a broader name that won't need rebranding if the tourism district expands to include hotels in Pleasant Hill or other cities, he said. The "defying expectations" message alludes to challenging conventional wisdom about the amenities and experiences Concord has to offer, Hohenstreet added.


Advertisement

"We want to create a strong brand with a fresh new image. We don't want to reinvent the wheel or put a positive spin on something that already exists," Hohenstreet said. "We weren't ready, nor prepared, to try to overcome any perception-based biases that exist. That's not our area of expertise."

Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister said the "Diablo Valley" branding could backfire by benefiting hotels in neighboring cities that aren't pitching in money for the campaign. And she sees Concord's demotion to second-tier status in the logo as a snub.

"I just don't see that, at the end of the day, it's going to provide that secondary bang for the buck, which is to really tie people to Concord from the branding; I think it's branding Diablo Valley," Hoffmeister said.

"I'm just highly disappointed, and I think the consultant maybe gave you a bum steer there that Concord's not good enough to be included in the marketing name."

Campaign organizers did hit a speed bump when they tried to register the website name, an indication perhaps that the chosen moniker isn't all that "fresh." A Pleasant Hill resident who owns DiabloValley.com was unwilling to sell, so the board had to settle for DiabloValleyCA.com.

Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.