Just how do you view other states?
Quick, take my lightning round quiz. If I say "Alabama," you would say? How about Wyoming? New Jersey? Delaware?
In my e-mail box this week was an intriguing report from Global Market Insite, an international polling organization. The company undertook an international survey of how people view each of the 50 states in terms of branding.
The poll attempts to qualify each state as if it was a product and whether or not the survey participants identify each state as a positive, well-known brand.
The surveys reports "the most striking thing about the State Brands Index is the high level of knowledge of the respondents. Looking at the responses of over 21,000 people in 16 countries to a large number of questions about the 50 states of the Union really emphasizes the power and familiarity of Brand America. Surely no other country is - or has ever been - so famous that a sample of consumers from around the world know so much about its individual administrative regions.
The survey noted that different nationalities gave high marks to different states. The British ranked New England higher. Mexicans liked New Mexico, Illinois and Utah, while the Germans liked states that had traditional German immigrant populations.
The survey's questions ranked the states on their presence in the national arena; the climate and topography; the potential for business and the potential for recreation; the efficiency of the state's government; and who lives there.
Overall, California was ranked first; Florida, second and Hawaii, third. The last states were Delaware at 47, Michigan at 48, Alabama at 49 and New Jersey in the final spot of 50.
In New England, the top state was Vermont at 14, Maine at 21, Connecticut at 26, Massachusetts at 29, New Hampshire at 30 and Rhode Island at 35.
So what does this mean? The survey's author, Simon Anholt, notes that "most interestingly it is clear that quite a few states have a genuinely international brand that could prove to be an enormous business advantage in the increasingly border-less world, if the power of those images can be properly harnessed."
So here's a challenge to our elected leaders: how do we improve the image of the Bay State? And how do we make our current image work for us?
Here's one idea: how about asking - not legislating - that every product made in the state carries a symbol denoting it was made in Massachusetts?
© 2006 by Gordon Michael Dobbs