A city by any other name…

a city by any other name

Topeka, Kansas, the small capital city in the heart of America’s prairieland, came under the international spotlight last week when the city’s mayor announced he would rename his town “Google, Kansas.” Granted, the name change is temporary, but the rebranding decision came as an interesting twist in the city’s play to attract the “Fiber for Communities” initiative that Google® is spearheading.

Apart from the late-night barbs and opinion pieces about the absurdity of the name, the decision was not a whimsical move. The mayor hopes the cute alias will attract the Internet giant’s attention as it narrows locations for its high speed Internet program. The aggressive program, designed to provide wired Internet at 100 times the current average speed, has roused Internet providers who see it as a game-changing ploy by Google to own a market that they have defined. Needless to say, current providers are not happy.

But back to Google, the city, that is. Bill Bunten, the mayor of the city formerly known as Topeka, hopes his proclamation will pull Google, the company, toward Kansas. Attracting the major industry player to his city, he feels, will motivate the younger generation to stay in Topeka and encourage business development and economic growth. Google, however, has declined to comment on the name change or reveal any plans to select cities for its program.

Asked by CNN if the city will permanently change its name to “Google” if it wins a coveted program spot, Mayor Bunten laughed. “Oh, heavens no,” he assured the reporter, “We are very proud of our city and Topeka is an Indian word which means ‘a good place to grow potatoes.’ We’re not going to change that.”

And it seems that Topeka will want to keep its name available for the next cultural trend. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, former mayor Joan Wagnon temporarily changed the city name in 1998 to “ToPikachu, Kansas,” in homage to Pikachu®, the then-popular Pokemon® character.

So in the future we may read about a Twitter, Kansas or a Gowalla, Kansas. All of which troubles me, since Austinites recently learned that Facebook® is considering expansion opportunities in our town. Is Facebook, Texas far behind?

Neena Needel is founder and Principal of Point2Point Group (www.point2pointgroup.com). If you would like to continue the conversation, post a comment or send a message to neena@point2pointgroup.com.

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about neena gupta needel

In marketing, a brand touchpoint refers to every opportunity a company has to impress its brand upon its consumers. I hope my thoughts on these pages will help to connect my ideas with others who share a passion for marketing and communication.

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