If New York City is the Big Apple and Hershey, Pa., the Sweetest Place on Earth, what is Largo?
The city would like to know.
On Tuesday, during a community work session, the City Commission gathered opinions from local residents as Largo communications and marketing manager Heather Graves shared the outcome of a recent survey.
Though no clear image of the city emerged, the results were interesting.
Graves began her presentation by explaining the city would benefit from having a brand identity — a visual, emotional and cultural image that defines the city to the residents, visitors and businesses.
"The best brands are simple, relevant, memorable and enduring," she told the commissioners.
Late last year, surveys were conducted to get a feel for perceptions about the community. Surveys were posted online and distributed in city-owned facilities. City staff also conducted telephone surveys and face-to-face interviews. Despite their efforts, only 126 people responded.
The first question was, "When you first think of Largo, what three adjectives come to mind?"
The No. 1 response was "growth, progress and development."
Graves added that was not necessarily positive in some cases. "Some people very clearly did not like the fact that we are growing, but it was the No. 1 theme," she said.
Graves said her biggest concern was the fifth most frequent response, where some described the city as "anonymous, boring and bland."
"That to me says there is room for improvement with branding initiative," she said.
Although residency status, city employment or gender didn't seem to influence perceptions, age did.
"Respondents 76 years of age or older almost universally liked the city a lot," she said. "Respondents who were 20 years of age or younger universally did not like our city."
She said people who felt positive about Largo said it was a great place to live, centrally located, filled with amenities and convenient. Many also mentioned safety and small-town feel.
Negative comments suggested the city had nothing special to offer, the crime rate was high and the population not well-educated.
"I have a Largo address but instead tell people I live in Seminole," was one response.
Graves said every city must deal with positive and negative images.
"In what I'm seeing on the negative responses, a lot of them have to do with Largo of 15 or 20 years ago," she said. "Perhaps we can, through this initiative, reach them and show them how far we've come in the past 15 or 20 years. That's really what branding is all about."
Mayor Pat Gerard said she hoped the city wouldn't formulate an identity based on so few responses.
"I'm all over the county and I hear people say it's different than it was 15 or 20 years ago," she said.
She added, "I know a lot of 20-year-olds and I don't know too many that are happy with their own town. Everybody thinks their home town is boring."
Tell us what
Finish the sentence "Largo is _________" in 25 words or fewer. We'll print what we think will best help Largo find its identity in the Sunday, March 16 issue.
Send your ideas to the Largo Times at email@example.com or fax to (727) 445-4119. Responses can also be mailed to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756, attn. Carrie Weimar, Largo Times editor.