ICONIC CAPE TOWN – have your say!

This is where you get to have your say – click on the comment link directly above and/or vote in the right hand column.  At the end of the day, it’s your opinion that counts.

It’s not often that one comes across a truly great idea and this just has to be one of those times.  Mel Miller’s concept for Iconic Cape Town really hits the nail right on the head.  No single phrase captures the essence of Cape Town better.

“Cape Town is the brand,” says Mel. “What Cape Town represents – what it has to offer and what it is known for – needs to be communicated instantly and effectively. The brand message needs to do that.

“We have so many memorable, recognisable and revered icons, it makes complete sense to capitalise on them. As a collective then, we can make one crisp, concise promise – ICONIC CAPE TOWN.” (The issue is not about logos, slogans or complex strategies.) It’s about simplicity of communication – “iconic” being the language and experience of our customers. (Operators at the rock face of tourism confirm this to be true. It’s the conversation they have with visitors daily.)

To South Africans outside Cape Town who ask, “how can a strong Brand Cape Town benefit me?”, the answer is simple.  Do you think Sydney’s strong brand benefits Australia, or London’s strong brand benefits Britain?  Of course they do!

  • CapeInfo set about testing the brand message by updating its “Introduction to Cape Town” page. ICONIC CAPE TOWN is a powerful statement, a promise and, when one explores it fully, has the legs to carry Cape Town to its unique position on the world stage. It works at a generic and a product level.  Do visit the new, surprising and inspiring “Introduction to Cape Town” page.  It says it all but can grow to encompass much more.
  • And if you want to read about how the concept came about and why it’s being launched like this, click here.

What does ‘Iconic’ mean?
Of, relating to, or having the character of an icon (an adjective)
What is the definition of ‘Icon’ (also i·kon):

  • An image; a representation.
  • An important and enduring symbol: “Table Mountain is one of the world’s global icons.”
  • One who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol
  • Landmark moments in time, eg, iconic moments – public and personal: “Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and his first speech from City Hall; the world’s first heart transplant at Groote Schuur hospital.”

“Iconic” is rich with meaning, not just visual. One of Cape Town’s greatest icons is not primarily visual at all. Robben Island should be deeply ingrained in Cape Town’s brand message with its iconic symbolism of “a triumph of the human spirit against the forces of evil, a triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small minds and pettiness; a triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness.”

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said: “It was clear that although Cape Town ranks among the top city destinations of the world, its brand image is fragmented, misunderstood and diluted.

“Countries, regions, states and cities, like large corporations, have begun rising to the challenge of communicating with power and persuasiveness. Furthermore, famous and successful cities are usually associated in people’s minds with a single quality, promise, attribute or story. The competition amongst travel destinations is tougher than ever before. We cannot afford not to put out a confident and powerful brand message out to the world.”

Getting the public involved in the branding debate has been enthusiastically received by Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism:

“I love Iconic Cape Town. It is simple, but powerful and tells the story of our city. Iconic Cape Town captures the diversity, richness, beauty, history and complexity of Cape Town. But for a brand message to be trully effective and real, it must be embraced, shared and lived by the people of the city. If not, it is reduced to a meaningless strap line without soul. Cape Town Tourism looks forward to being part of the process and hearing what our fellow Capetonians have to say.”

Comments from outside Cape Town are as important – that’s where the brand really has to work.

25 responses to “ICONIC CAPE TOWN – have your say!”

  1. I love Iconic Cape Town. It is simple, but powerful and tells the story of our city. Iconic Cape Town captures the diversity, richness, beauty, history and complexity of Cape Town. But for a brand message to be trully effective and real, it must be embraced, shared and lived by the people of the city. If not, it is reduced to a meaningless strap line without soul. Cape Town Tourism looks forward to being part of the process and hearing what our fellow Capetonians have to say.

  2. The “Iconic” Cape Town concept really excites me – It’s fresh, creative, inspiring & captures the true essence of Cape Town/Western Cape. Most importantly from an implementation perspective it can just as easily be embraced as a generic destination promotion as it can for individual products. The nett result will be the tourism industry (at last) speaking with one voice & a clear unfragmented message can get out there. That’s after all what brand building should be all about!

  3. How much did they pay Mel Miller to come up with an exhausted, hobbled cliche like “iconic”? “Inspired”? Good grief – you all need to get out more.

  4. Reply to Paul: This sounds like a flip response with little thought given to it. Firstly, Mel wasn’t paid nor even asked for the proposal. Secondly, if it was easy, people would have come up with something long ago. The simplicity of “Iconic Cape Town”, while capturing the essence of a complex destination, must have escaped you. I don’t suppose you have a suggestion for something better?

  5. I like it as a brand essence. Mainly this is because it can be substantiated, which will make it robust. Also because it is versatile which gives it longevity as well as wide appeal. I especially like it because of the “i” in iconic which opens the opportunity for customisation – the opportunity for people to seek and identify what is iconic for themselves – they can leave Cape Town but it will leave a lasting impression on them.

    I’m not sure that it should be a slogan (which begs the question as to whether there needs to be a slogan – they are as often a curse as a blessing!)

  6. As an International Property Consultant dealing in most property hotspots around the world I can truly agree with the iconic stature of Cape Town. Hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup will introduce this great place to many more visitors, whom will fall in love with this wonderful city.

    Well done Mel, keep up the good work.

  7. I comment as a tourguide dealing mainly with folk from the USA and Canada – it is common for them to express their utter delight in what we have to offer – having very little expectation and sometimes feeling that they have been bullied into coming here by their travel agent as an add-on to a safari.
    This is because we are hardly represented overseas and I feel quite strongly that ‘Iconic CapeTown’ really encompasses what they experience.
    The webpage is great and I hope it will be more visible to the casual visitor to the Capeinfo website.
    Mariette and Mel would be a formidable team to finally get Cape Town properly on the international tourism destination map. You go guys!!

  8. At last there seems to be order amid the chaos of the past. I like “Iconic Cape Town” because it is short and sweet. I am not going to get my whimmies in a froth over the fact that most Germans, French, Japanese and so on won’t have foggiest idea what ” iconic ” means. The important thing though is that it is simple – “Cape Town” is the globally reconised brand not just for the city but for the whole region and in some cases the whole country (ask any German visitor what they call SA). A great step in the right direction and the beauty with “iconic” Cape Town is that it can be changed from time to time without damaging the brand.

  9. If IMAX SA is Mel’s claim to fame I would be concerned-it was great for a while but didn’t last long. But let’s give Mel a chance – anything will be better than the last few years efforts.

  10. I would have gone for something with more rhythm – for instance “Captivating Cape Town”, but Iconic Cape Town will work as a brand too. It’s all about how it is sold to the public in the end.

  11. I agree with Johnny Johnson. “Iconic Cape Town” is great as a Brand Essence but it should not necessarily be the consumer-facing slogan. Despite the often repeated argument that there are other “Capes” out there, “Cape Town” is a well-known brand and already has many positive associations linked to it. To many foreign travellers, it also represents the positive/attractive/must-see side of South Africa. “Iconic” is certainly an adjective that is rich in meaning and should not be lost in explaining the essence of this brand, but it’s hard to imagine someone saying “I’m planning a trip to Iconic Cape Town”. I’m not saying this is impossible, as a brand consultant I believe that with a good, cleverly executed marketing strategy any brand can be turned into a success!

  12. Iconic doesn’t really say anything about CT to me. She’s the Mother City, after all. The Mother City has a bit of soul, character, an identity. If it’s going to be compared to the Big Apple, Iconic CT sounds cold and too marketing-heavy. The Big Easy, the Big Apple … those names tell you something about the place. While I get the point that iconic will help sum it up to tourists who don’t really see the point of visiting, it doesn’t really do this amazing city justice.

  13. At last a positive move away from the current state of total confusion….As mentioned by Mariette first step is for the community to buy into the brand identity, embrace it and then everyone will sell the brand…..The concerns about the word ‘Iconic’ should be taken into account and some research done…Cape Town is the brand…but don’t lose the ‘Iconic’ concept..

  14. We are more than one at this email address but the second vote (not the same as the first)was refused. That’s not fair!

  15. Anything would be better than the previous “Cape Town Routes Unlimited” but
    most of us, let alone our visitors, wont know what ‘iconic’ means.

  16. Initially I was not overly taken by the term “iconic Cape Town” because I think the term “icon” is overused and something of a cliché. But in the context it works well and looks good, especially on the logo. So I would be happy to support it.

  17. Iconic Cape Town sounds great. In fact looks great written against Table Mountain background, it tells a beautiful powerful story.

    Iconic Cape Town sounds great. In fact looks great written against Table Mountain background, it tells a beautiful powerful story.

    Something that might be minor and personal: Is iconic a commonly used word? For English speakers yes indeed, however, I think that is might be against the simple, crisp, concise ethos we are trying to work towards in articulating our brand (for non English speakers)

    • The success of IMAX unfortunately led to its demise – the huge popularity of the IMAX Experience drew the attention of investor LeisureNet (operator of the Health&Racquet Clubs) who purchased a majority share in the business some 5 years after its launch in Cape Town. The liquidation of LeisureNet in 2000 forced the closure of all the SA theatres. IMAX was widely regarded as a ‘must-see’ and was arguably one of Cape Town’s most popular visitor attractions drawing in excess of 450,000 people a year during the period of my five year ownership.

      • Voting doesn’t use your email address; a cookie is placed on a computer to record when a vote is cast. Many people do try to vote more than once.

  18. I think the concept is a good one. However I believe the word should not appear.
    I am in agreement with a number of replies stated above.
    1. It is a word with no soul.It better describes a computer desktop with many icons, something to click on to get to a program.
    2. Most people from abroad will not know the meaning of the word as it is not a common word. For that matter this will also exclude many of the locals who do not have that level of vocab.
    Please allow more time for discussion and debate so that Cape Town and the marketing thereof belongs to all who live here and not only the intellectual few.
    Lets make Cape Town a City for All.

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