City's convention agency changing to more 'hip' name

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The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association is changing its name to Visit Indy and dramatically altering its logo to appeal to leisure travelers as well as meeting planners and convention attendees.

The change officially takes effect Friday with an overhauling of all the organization’s signage at the Indiana Convention Center and around the city as well as all of its marketing and other collateral material. The organization already owns the VisitIndy.com web domain name and uses that name in its e-mail addresses.

“We found that everything people liked about this city was tied to ‘Indy,’ ICVA CEO Leonard Hoops said. “Everything positive was Indy, Indy, Indy. Things they didn’t like they tied to ‘Indianapolis.’”

visit indy logo 15colThe new logo has symbolic iconography, including the oval shape in the tail of the "y," recalling the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Image: Visit Indy)

Along with the new identity, Visit Indy has killed its former tagline “Changing the Game.” It will not be replaced.

“Indianapolis is the brand,” Hoops explained. “And Indy is the brand strategy.”

Hoops said the board approved the change last month following months of outside focus groups and numerous internal staff and board meetings to discuss the changes.

Over the last 12 months, the organization invested $30,000 in research and testing for the change. In addition, it is spending $150,000 producing new marketing materials ranging from letterhead and print ads to trade show booths.

The ICVA doesn’t have a specific ad campaign lined up to tout the name change, but will be trumpeting it in its previously planned—and budgeted—fall and winter ad campaigns, said Chris Gahl, ICVA vice president of marketing.

 Hoops thinks the expense will be well worth it, boosting the effort to book 850,000 hotel room nights annually. In recent years ICVA has booked fewer than 750,000 hotel room nights.

“The question was, 'How the heck do we get to 850,000 rooms?'" Hoops said. “We concluded there were three factors. We had to be better at evaluating business. We had to take care of business better. And the third thing was the elevation of the brand. Changing to Visit Indy is a big part of that third factor.”

Carmel-based Strategic Marketing & Research Inc. conducted the focus groups in key cities, including Chicago, St. Louis and Louisville. The Lodge, an Indianapolis-based marketing firm, helped craft the logo.

The logo uses several Indy-centric images including an "I" in the word Indy that is supposed to symbolize Monument Circle and a large oval shape coming off the tail of the "y" in Indy symbolizing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy 500.

“We discovered Indianapolis has an organically grown nickname that has significant brand equity among a number of constituents,” said Hoops, who came to the ICVA as CEO from San Francisco in 2011.

Hoops said the name change also was tested with focus groups in Indianapolis.

“Two things I’m confident about,” Hoops said. “First, some will like the new name and some won’t. I’m also confident that [the new name and logo] have been thoroughly tested with key customer stakeholders and local stakeholders.”

Hoops isn’t concerned that the new name speaks more to leisure travelers than to convention organizers.

ICVA studies, Hoops said, showed that local and national convention planners found the Visit Indy moniker to be more “edgy, hip, trendy, fun, hospitable and endearing,” than the organization’s old name.

“Indy can be so many things to so many people,” Hoops said. “It’s all positive. And the new name allows us to be agile and nimble in developing future [advertising] campaigns.”

Jay Gladden, dean of the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at IUPUI, likes the change “a lot.”

“It’s important to be concise in this day of cluttered messaging, so it’s great to spell out the mission of the organization in two words,” said Gladden, who has led several studies in tourism marketing. “I think it’s a great strategy to have your name be a call to action. One of the ICVA’s chief missions is to get people to give Indianapolis a try. This lets people know right up front what you’re all about.”

The organization was formed in 1923 and has been known as the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association since 1978. In 2009, the ICVA board considered a similar name change but at the time the Indiana Convention Center was being enhanced and expanded and board members wanted to retain the word ‘convention’ in the moniker.

“They wanted to make sure we spoke to that audience; the world of convention and meeting planners,” Hoops explained.

But now, Hoops and his staff want to market just as heavily to leisure travelers. Hoops said he’s been seriously considering an organizational name change since last September—just more than three months after he took ICVA’s top job.

Indianapolis-based Promotus Advertising President Bruce Bryant thinks the timing is right for the change.

“ICVA is too institutional and doesn’t speak to general consumers, the leisure travelers,” Bryant said. “On the heels of the Super Bowl, we have momentum with consumers because that mega-event is so consumer driven. Now is the time to tell people in that segment that Indy is the place to visit.”

The local change follows a national trend. Chicago this year changed the name of its tourism and convention organization to Choose Chicago. Visit Baltimore, Destination DC and Meet Minneapolis are other examples of recent tourism and convention association name changes.



  • http://www.skyline.ca
    Should be interesting to see how this turns out.
  • National attention received
    Looks like the major design blog Brand New has picked up on this monstrosity. http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/visit_indy.php
  • poor
    Exactly, Jay. Stylistically the logo feels dated and amateurish. Again, Indy strives for "lowest common denominator design" instead of striving for the best. It doesn't matter what pressures were put on the designer or what committee wanted input. The design professional's job is to guide the nonprofessional through the design process. Not to bow to their uninformed & timid visions. If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. If we, as a public don't demand better, we'll get exactly what we deserve - watered down, committee driven drivel just like the One America garage, just like the Visit Indy mess.
  • Accounting 101
    Obviously CF has never been to business school. Top line (revenues) is not the measuring stick. Bottom Line is and ICVA or whatever their Hip new name is must be fiscally responsible and good stewards of taxpayer money while operating at peak levels.
  • They need their budget cut and more responsible financial stewardship
    CF get over your pie in the sky jaded view of what the ICVA does and can actually do. They are a quasi governmental corp funded by taxpayers who are screaming at this dumb Mayors lack of financial stewardship. TAXPAYERS ARE DEMANDING FINANCIAL RESPONSIBLIITY. When a recent article indicates some Lunkhead at the ICVA wants $1.5 million from the sale of the Ober building that is absolutely not the answer. Now they BLOW $180,000 on some stupid logo change like that is going to bring visitors. GROSS INCOMPETENCE! Cuts there are absolutely necessary. These city grafters need to stop pillaging the taxpayers.
  • not an employee
    i dont work for the organization...not spouting off on their behalf, just sick of people who are okay with life as it always is...maintaining mediocrity.
  • ICVA is NOT the reason more people come here
    People were coming to indy BEFORE we booked the super bowl: investments in the Arts, tech based companies, not to mention the growing number of young entrepreneurs taking risks in opening new businesses that locals want to go to regularly and visitors actually go home and talk about. The indie growth of biz and art in indy have done more for the city in the last 10 years than the chamber of commerce and the visitors bureau have done, hands down. Need proof? Compare the number of youtube hits on a "professionally" produced video for the Indianapolis Convention Visitors Association Podcast _ ow.ly/d3wKm (hint... less than 250) and hits for some screamo band playing Dudefest a few years ago _ ow.ly/d3wTU (hint... more than 4,300). Its a no brainer guys.
  • poor design
    This design looks dated and does not appeal to anything "hip", please Indy-get your money back or request a re-design. You should have them design three and let the city vote for it. This way we can choose what will represent us...otherwise...we will continue to talk about how great other cities are
  • Really?
    Keep our opinions to ourselves? On a comment board? This is not the first time we've seen someone connected to the ICVA with extremely thin skin spout off a bunch of nonsense... Whoever is in charge of these loonies... put a muzzle on them! If you can't take the heat, stay our of the kitchen...
    • Know Your Facts
      Know your facts about the ICVA and what they do and how they are funded before you judge. Do you have any idea of the economic impact they bring to this city and what the city would look like without their efforts. No, I am not an employee who is fearful of losing their job and if you have seen what they have accomplished over the past couple of years, my guess is that nobody is losing their job. To all of you who post, look at what you do every day and ask if you are adding the same value to the community that they are. Other cities are suffering because they are losing visitors and conventions. We are growing significantly. I heard a stat that the hospitality sector employs somewhere around 65 or 70K people. Not to mention the dollars they bring to all of the businesses. Our downtown would look like a war zone if it was not for the conventions and visitors that they bring in. When it comes to things like logos and/or art, everybody has an opinion...if you don't know the facts, keep your opinions to yourselves...we don't have an interest in hearing an uninformed opinion.
      • No...
        Nope. I've read people saying that they don't like the logo.. so I decided to try to come up with an improvement. Mine incorporates the flag of Indianapolis. I like it better. It still needs improvement tho. Can you do better?
      • Busted
        now you're just trolling, Moochie.
        • Fixed!
          Sort of. 10 minutes of Photoshop. I combined it with the flag of Indianapolis. Granted, it's a hack job and needs some spacing and sizing, but I like it better. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8443/7804052676_ef97339f6c.jpg
          • Cause Why? The Taxpayers Are So Flush With Money
            So ICVA blew $180,000 of taxpayer money to change to change its name to Visit Indy? We have Police that have to buy their own, sanitary gloves, toilet paper, folders for case/incident reports, bullets batteries for stun guns and this bonehead group can go flush $180,000 out for some totally unnecessary change? Political Scum!
          • KEEPING IT REAL
            Wow I guess I hit a nerve with CF as he must be a grafter/employee fearful of losing his job. When it's published that ICVA needs $1.5 mill in proceeds of the Ober building to pay for soft costs then something is amiss at ICVA. They need there bloated pay and overhead cut and not to sell hard assets. Go find another job buddy and get off the taxpayer dole out. I know exactly what Chris is doing and what he can and needs to be doing when cuts are required.
          • Seriously?
            First of all, Chris Gahl does not manage conventions and their are some very talented people in that organization. Perhaps you should take the time to get to know who they are and what they do. The organization continues to bring new and larger conventions to the city to compliment the already great conventions we have. Why don't you all stick to what you know best and let them do what they do best. This city is successful because of the good work that they do bring visitors and conventions to the city. Can you all be positive about anything??? If not, get a different life.
          • You Mad, Bro!?
            People who hop on sites like this and rant about a project they wish they had the opportunity to design are the equivalent of 5 year olds rationalizing to each other on a playground why that other kid's toy isn't really THAT great.
          • Sorry JUSTIN
            In the end it is what it is no matter how screwed up the process. So if we all post samples and you don't like them can I blame it on the process? Why don't you address the "have a competition" issue. I find that almost as offensive as the logo. We don't need professional photographers or designers. Just have a competition for free work.
          • Finger pointers
            None of you know exactly what the assignment and direction that Lodge received was. None of you know how many (possibly dozens) of logos Lodge presented and recommended that you all might have loved. They are a very talented design shop and have done great work in Indy. It's easy for all you "professional designers" to critique this work without anyone knowing who you are. Post your own work for us to evaluate. All of you designers know that the client often makes the final call and injects their own direction and creativity as they please since it's ultimately their money and their brand. Watch who you point your fingers at, you're better than that "designers." And no I don't work for Lodge.
          • Lack of direction and no real plan for growing the business
            This is like putting a bandaid on a large head wound. ICVA should be disbanded Hoops should work under the CIB and everyone with ICVA should be terminated. Retain Gahl to manage the convention business which is recurring in the bag so to speak. Engage a 3rd (numerous) party and pay them handsome commission for bringing in NEW convention business. This entire LOS and convention center expansion is a scam on taxpayers the way it is set up. Take the money you are currently BLOWING and invest in a monorail from the airport. You want to compete why not have had the foresight to connect a world class airport to the convention area in DT. People in charge of conventions are very open to virtually eliminating an additional cost barrier (i.e. cabs, limos and rental cars) in order to get a wider base (larger conventions). Poor leadership has been shown not planning for that competitive advantage. We can pay a 3rd party comm
          • Naptown is still the cheekiest
            'Visit Indy' is fine, but such a safe and mediocre choice. I agree with Aaron Renn (The Urbanophile)when he makes the case that our strongest brand name is Naptown. Check out his blog entry from last year: http://www.urbanophile.com/2011/05/22/learning-to-love-naptown/
          • Indy Logo Change
            Gretchen, Thought you might like to see this article and the related comments. Sorry you were out of twon when we were there. Uncle Charlie
          • yuck
            Awful logo! Hip and edgy....seriously?? They've set us back 4 decades.
            • nice name bad logo
              I think everyone agrees it was a good move to shorten the marketing name of the city. Was attempted years ago but the powers to be wanted INDIANAPOLIS. Too bad they hired a boutique shop to do the logo. As a professional it is not executed well and lacks balance. For the money they should have hired a calligrapher or typographer. Unfortunately it is what happens when a CEO thinks his is an expert at all things marketing. That's why different disciplines have separate degrees. And for the record "Bill" this was not the same agency as "Raising The Game". That was Y&L.
            • LOGO
              The logo is descent, not the best, not the worst. Why don't they go to the local colleges and seek a graphic design for a whole lot less. I guarantee the logo would have been better. The city and it's quasi agencies could save a lot of cash by tapping collegiate talent and ideas.
            • Be Proud Indy
              Raising the bar? Changing the game? Visit Indy? It all sounds so insecure, pleading and desperate. It is time Indy stood up and said this is who we are...and we're rock solid. The "Indy" part is good. The "Visit"...not so much (both in copy and logo design). "Go Indy" works better on multiple levels (but in this day and age, domain name always seems to set precedent).
            • Re: new logo
              HORRIBLE!! BORING!!
            • 30k for what?
              While I commend the ICVA for recognizing the need to change their name to be shorter and more appealing, I am confused to how they spent $30k to come up with "Visit Indy." Shouldn't that have been one of the first names that came up in the brainstorming sessions?
            • Logo blues
              It's true, this logo is as boring as they come. I don't think it's Lodge's fault though. I've gone to logo selection meetings and the work is created based on feedback from the client.
            • Are you kidding?
              That is one of the worst logos that I've ever seen. There are so many talented agencies and graphic artists in this city that would have loved to have the opportunity to submit something in a contest. Like many of the other comments have stated, I hope it's not too late to for ICVA to reconsider plastering this amateur attempt up all over the city or country. Really embarrassing for Indy!
            • not a designer but that is BAD
              Look at all that white space! Its just like the area between neighborhoods! Check that kerning! Out obesity rate can only GROW! That'll look great monogrammed onto a polo shirt! Blechhhh....
            • Design Competition
              While it does seem to late here, this would have been a great design competition. Bring out the talent that Indy has to design something with a bit more pizazz. It's frustrating to be told to "do something about it" when all these things happen behind closed doors, I know many people would've gladly submitted their ideas earlier on if given the chance.
            • Cost
              If you want to be really stunned, do a little digging and find out how much the ICVA s agency charged to design that logo. They were the same ones that came up with..Indianapolis..Raising the Bar... You won't believe the cost
            • Logo is ... NOT GOOD!
              I really like Visit Indy, but the logo is absolutely terrible. How on earth can they say that the "I" in Indy is supposed to symbolize the monument at Monument Circle. That is absurd! That is like saying the "O" in TOILET represents what is being flushed down the pipes. And the "Y" representing the oval of the track? How can that possibly be? Whoever participated in these focus groups was not telling the truth about anything. A+ on the name change; F- on the logo. They need to regroup and start over on the logo before it is too late.
            • Can you do better
              While I am not the biggest fan of the new logo, Michael, if you think you can do better, go for it! So sick of people saying "we should be ashamed". Then do something about it....provide solutions.
            • Seriously
              Changing the name to the far-less-clunky "Visit Indy" was a great move, but that logo is embarrassing (and obviously over-cooked in focus sessions with "stakeholders"). It has no character or pizzazz; so middle-of-the-road, it looks like it was designed for a Brown County B&B. If we're trying to position the city as hip, modern, fresh and hospitable, you need to start over with a design that looks based in the 21st century. And outsiders don't care about symbolic iconography; they're more likely to be attracted by something cool, spiffy and surprising.
            • Wow.
              They may have spent $150k on new stationery, but I hope they didn't pay The Lodge more than $50 for that logo. Looks like a 5th grader spent 15 minutes in Microsoft Word to make it. Everyone in the city should be ashamed of such a disaster.

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