Marketer Seth Godin just wrote a typically short blog post called, “Am I supposed to like this?”
In it he talks about the fact that we are, for example, more likely to enjoy the food at a fancy restaurant. And we’re also more likely to enjoy a bottle of wine if it’s expensive or if we believe it comes from some desirable wine region and it’s supposed to be good (you can even just switch the bottle).
He then sums up this idea in one line that I really like: “Judgments happen long before we think they do.”
Now, I’ve thought about this same idea with respect to cities. Take New York, for example. New York is famous. If I had to pick a capital for the world, it would probably be New York.
You watch it in movies and shows (even if it’s actually filmed in Toronto, Chicago or some other stand in). We read about it. We hear about it. We generally form judgments without the actual experiences. That builds brand equity. We’re supposed to like New York. Sex and the City told us so. And that makes it all that much better when we eventually get there.
Of course, it’s a bit of a catch-22. You have to be an awesome city for people to want to make movies and songs about you. But in this era of global connectedness, I think everyone, from citizens to economic development agencies, can fake it until that city makes it by investing in “supposed to.” Am I supposed to like this city?