Stirring the Pot: The Art of the Brand


In a cloak of secrecy and infused enthusiasm, Visit Oakland on April 2 unveiled a new logo and marketing campaign that had been in the works for 18 months.


The private, not-for-profit organization, which serves as a tourism bureau for Oakland, invited elected officials, city leaders, corporate and business stakeholders and interested community members to the 2.5-hour breakfast soiree at the Paramount Theatre.

Visit Oakland staff invited local eateries to provide delicious treats; gave a professional and informative presentation; showed a confidence and commitment in a city that always gets a bad rap from those who don’t live here that was infectious; and ensured media attention and general interest for the campaign that spread far beyond city limits.

In full disclosure: Visit Oakland’s Director of PR and Partnerships is a friend and I occasionally blog for the organization’s Oakland Ray. And though I’m not overly excited about the finished logo itself – three colors that blend into many with the new Bay Bridge span as its backdrop – the goal of the creative group of mostly women who make up Oakland Visit, did exactly what a successful brand campaign should do: Invite the world to take one step back and a second look through clearer glasses.

When was the last time you tooted your own horn?

Too often, men, but more importantly women, will hide behind a cape of rumors and haters. We are overworked, underpaid, beaten and bruised (literally and figuratively) by a society run by 1 percent. Many feel they have nothing to offer because someone (or something) has picked the one perceived negative thing about her (or him) to tell the world about. The negative “press” then spreads like wildfire and often times we think there is nothing to rid the bad reputation.

The key isn’t to rid it … if it is a fact, it may be outside your ability to remove … but you can put the focus on the important stuff.

Have you never heard the term, “You are your own best cheerleader?”

Crime and violence is a big problem in Oakland. It’s not a secret – and it also is not widespread. We are a mainly urban community with the same crime, violence, blight and economic unsteadiness that other major cities have. But what good does it do to promote it?

Our job as humans should be to uplift others and shine the best way we know how. Visit Oakland did just that – pushing the city’s crime and negativity to the side and hitting a home run with a brand that makes the Eastside city look better than the West side of the Bay. And it didn’t change overnight … it was the VO team’s mission to shift the perception almost two years ago.

Branding yourself won’t happen overnight either. But with hard work, putting aside your fears and taking the proverbial bull by the horn, you, too, can get more people to take notice of you.

It all begins with the decision to find your voice. And once you find it, don’t stop talking.


fitzhughMichelle Fitzhugh-Craig is an award-winning, professional journalist who resides in Oakland. If you have an individual, organization, issue or other topic that may be of interest to our readers, contact her at [email protected]. Need more stirring? Visit



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