Yesterday Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced that he would not seek reelection in 2011. This was surprising news; Daley has been mayor since 1989 and would easily have won reelection to another term.
Daley’s decision is a big loss for Chicago’s brand.
Mayor Daley is a brand builder; he understands the power of branding and has worked hard to build Chicago’s brand on the global stage. He traveled widely and was quick to embrace ideas from other cities. He spruced up the city, planting trees and cleaning up parks. He supported Chicago’s Olympic bid.
In many ways Daley personifies the Chicago brand: tough, direct, smart, pragmatic, pro-business and down to earth.
Daley leaves Chicago with a strong, distinctive brand. The city is clearly a global business powerhouse, with major assets, a vibrant corporate community and generally positive associations around the world
Still, there is more work to do; the next mayor should make branding a top priority. Chicago needs to better define its brand and stand out on the global stage, especially in international markets like China and India. Chicago needs a vibrant economy and that depends on building a brand that will attract businesses to the city.
Brands don’t change quickly, especially well established brands like Chicago. Richard Daley has built Chicago’s brand and his impact will be felt for many years to come.