Re-Branding Boston: new alliance seeks to blunt the “brain drain” exodus

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Boston-base streetwear company Karmaloop is taking on the city with its new venture, a non-profit organization called the Future Boston Alliance that essentially seeks to re-brand Boston to better live up to its reputation as a cultural and intellectual hub.

As  an advocate for progressive and cultural growth of the city, their goal is to invigorate the local creative economy, making the city more attractive for creative young people to start small businesses and convincing college students to stay in Boston after graduation. Greg Selkoe, Karmaloop’s chief executive, says Boston’s reputation as a “cold and conservative” city has got to go. He feels that if things don’t change, the city will continue to lose more creative talent to New York.

In their manifesto, Future Boston’s Selkoe states that the city has “failed to help nurture young creative talent in Boston and if anything created a hostile environment where ideas and creativity must struggle to flourish”. The brain drain is a common trend, where creative people end up leaving the city early in their careers because they lack the support or creative network they need to be successful. But that’s where Future Boston will step in. They will be there to counteract the current archaic environment and, where possible, change it. Apparently that change starts with conservative rules and regulations for restaurants and services throughout the city.

Bostonians know there isn’t much to do or eat after 2:00am and Selkoe sees that as a major drawback, reasoning “If Boston isn’t any fun, and there aren’t a lot of creative things happening here, that’s very bad for the entrepreneurial environment.’’  Sure, it’s sometimes frustrating that you can’t always grab a slice at three or four in the morning, but is it really preventing young talent from staying in Boston? Do we really just assume that all musicians, designers, and artists stay up until 6:00am in a 24-hour diner in Back Bay creating their masterpieces?

Of course that isn’t the only plan of action for Future Boston, but being in a creative field myself, I hope they can narrow the focus of their rebranding strategy. In repositioning Boston as a “creative friendly” atmosphere, we hope the organization looks not only at ways of supporting creatives’ lifestyles, but to support their goals and promote growth in those industries.  In repositioning a client’s brand, one of the fundamental ingredients is evaluating if the new position is believable….will people really see Boston as the creative hub that Selkoe dreams of? I suppose anything is possible but, as with all clients, it’s essential to put away our own agendas and focus solely on what’s best for Boston.

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