Last year, Breckenridge interviewed almost a thousand people, both past and potential visitors, asking them what they loved about the town. That feedback was incorporated into a new brand for the town based on real experiences. This year, Gov. John Hickenlooper is launching a five-month grassroots project to do the same thing at the state level. But rather than polling visitors, he's asking residents to help define Colorado.The Making Colorado initiative, what organizers are calling the most inclusive and ambitious branding project ever attempted by a state, launched this week, pulling together marketing experts, agencies, high school students and the public to help create a brand that captures the spirit and culture of the state. "Colorado has a heart and soul like no other state," Hickenlooper stated in a recent release on the project. "We launched the Making Colorado initiative to create and market a stronger Colorado brand. Together, we will define what Colorado stands for and how to convey that to the world to help ensure our communities, culture and environment are strong and vibrant for decades to come." The effort, headed up by Colorado's chief marketing officer Aaron Kennedy, the founder of Noodles & Company, will bring together a who's who of influential individuals and business representatives who rely on the Colorado brand to provide recommendations as well as a Youth Ambassador Council made up of high school seniors from all of Colorado's 64 counties to contribute content from their hometowns. Online and through social media all other Coloradans will be able to submit thoughts and opinions to the project as well. The Making Colorado project is a kind of expanded version of the ground-up branding effort Breckenridge launched last year, and local marketing experts are on board. "Breckenridge is a brand people understand across the country that we're trying to capture for our marketing and sales efforts," said Breckenridge Councilman Mike Dudick, who led the 2010 campaign to pass a lodging tax increase to fund the town's marketing efforts. "I applaud the state for doing the same thing."But it's not yet clear how active a role Breckenridge or Summit County agencies will play in the Making Colorado process. "Since the branding efforts are a new initiative, the scope of Breckenridge's participation is not yet known," John McMahon, president and CEO of the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, the town's direct marketing organization stated in an email. "I stay actively involved with the statewide marketing committee." This isn't Hickenlooper's first stab at a ground-up approach to major projects in his first term. In 2011, months after taking office, he launched a similar project to establish the state's approach to economic development, informed by the needs and priorities of the people. The several-month effort led to meetings and interactive work across the state and ultimately produced a six-point blueprint prioritizing the construction of a business friendly environment, increased access to capital and the education of the future workforce. Building and selling the "Colorado Brand" was also a headline of the plan.
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