The Big Apple, The Windy City, Bean Town. Many cities have nicknames both official and unofficial. All have their own origins that rarely have to do with their meanings today. The important part comes when a name turns into a perception or image in the mind of society. It’s easy to change a name, but very hard to change a perception.
The Big Apple is as you likely know, New York City, NY. But I’m willing to bet you don’t know why and never really asked. Well let’s see. New York City is big. Check. It’s not big in area but it is big in population, money, height and of course perception. And it must be famous for growing apples, right? No not really. It all started in the 1920’s with John Fitzgerald, a sports writer for the New York Morning Telegraph, creatively writing about horse racing. The prize for the horse at the end of a race was an apple. New York’s races were the most coveted at the time and so Fitzjerald would use the metaphor to call the races in New York, The Big Apple.
The Big Apple in this type of usage died out and “The Big Apple” just became known as the old name for New York. Later in the 1970’s The New York Convention and Visitors Bureau ran a marketing campaign that highlighted The Big Apple with a brighter image having nothing to do with horse racing or any real reasoning for that matter. People saw a big apple and thought more positively about a place that was going through some hard fiscal times. There’s the magic of The Big Apple. A name changed the city’s view of itself, changed the actions of its citizens and helped put an image of pride back into the city.
Companies do this too, but with the Big Apple it was very organic, didn’t have a lot of specifics behind it, didn’t really have a meaning, but somehow created an image that’s known to hundreds of millions if not billions of people. That’s power you can’t buy.
Companies pay huge dollars to get the same kind of reaction. When companies are able to place a positive image into the minds of their customers, the trust and loyalty go up and company becomes stronger. Getting that image into the minds of the customers is a difficult task. But it starts with picking a position, creating an image that portrays that postiton and getting it out there over and over and over again. What do you want your image to be?