Nebraska: Good Life. Great Opportunity

LINCOLN — Nebraskans have claimed their state offers “The Good Life” for more than four decades.

On Tuesday, Gov. Pete Ricketts unveiled a new brand for the state that builds on the time-tested slogan and takes it up a notch.

The result? “Nebraska. Good Life. Great Opportunity.”

“It captures the essence of Nebraska,” said Courtney Dentlinger, state economic development director. “It’s the good life, even greater.”

The great reveal occurred shortly before Ricketts kicked off the first Governor’s Summit on Economic Development in Lincoln. The daylong summit brought together more than 400 business leaders, economic development executives, elected officials and others to hear ideas about encouraging state growth.

Ricketts said the new state brand is part of that effort, describing a brand as a promise that an organization makes about itself when dealing with customers.

He said the “Good Life. Great Opportunity.” slogan reflects who Nebraskans are and what they feel about themselves.

“From Sandhills ranches to Omaha high rises, this brand is inspired by the men and women who grew Nebraska for our first 150 years,” Ricketts said.

He said the slogan reflects Nebraska’s historic strengths and projects a vision for the future, while being flexible enough to be used by each state agency or by local government, private businesses and others.

For example, the State Patrol will use the tag line: “Good Life. Great Tradition.” The Department of Labor will use “Good Life. Great Connections.”

And the Department of Roads will be “Good Life. Great Journey.”

Initial reaction to the new brand was mixed.

Amy Struthers, a professor of advertising and public relations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said she has been looking forward to the next step in marketing Nebraska and hopes the new brand is adopted widely.

She contrasted the new brand with the “Nebraska. Nice” slogan, developed to promote tourism in the state. That tag line hasn’t resonated with the public, she said.

“The people of Nebraska certainly let it be known in the past that they believe in the Good Life as an accurate slogan,” Struthers said. “Using this one tag line would help our citizens become the state’s best brand ambassadors.”

Online, some commentators praised the new slogan as a true reflection of their state.

Others called it dull and questioned why it did not have any red in it. The logo incorporates the blue and yellow colors of the Nebraska flag.

“I really like it and I can’t say that about much else that Governor Peter has done,” said Bob Neussendorfer, writing on Facebook. “This one though ... good, quick and sets the intention. I’ll criticize when due and compliment the same ... good job with the tag line.”

Kent Cisar liked it as well. “Simple and keeps a very popular phrase with a new twist,” he tweeted.

On the other hand, Jackie O tweeted, “This looks like a company. Nebraska: The Corporation.”

Matt Gonderinger, on Facebook, compared it to the 2-year-old tourism slogan. “Wow ... this is underwhelming. It’s better than ‘Nebraska Nice” ... but a bunch of preschoolers could have bested that,” he said.

Ricketts said the new brand will not replace “Nebraska. Nice,” which the state Tourism Commission introduced in 2014 to decidedly mixed reviews.

The commission has used the tag line as the foundation of its current marketing effort.

Ricketts said the two slogans can work together — one aimed at people visiting the state, the other aimed at people interested in staying in Nebraska. In the future, he said, the commission could decide to bring the two together in some fashion.

Nor will the new brand appear on the new state license plate, the design of which was settled earlier. The plate features an outline of the Sower sculpture that stands atop the State Capitol.

The first version of the plate design provoked widespread derision, including criticism that the drawing appeared to be sexually suggestive.

State officials revised the drawing after the artist whose drawing was used told The World-Herald that he had mistakenly based his design on a different sculpture of a sower.

Firespring, a Lincoln-based marketing and communications agency, developed the new brand through a nine-month effort.

The company was chosen through a competitive bidding process. The state paid $62,500 for the company’s work, Ricketts said. He described that cost as an investment in Nebraska’s future.

The initial goal was to develop a new brand for the state Department of Economic Development. But the project expanded to all state agencies and the goal became a unified brand for the state.

Firespring President Dave Snitily said Nebraska is one of a growing number of states that are realizing the power of having a unified brand, much as private businesses have for years.

Snitily said the company involved thousands of current and former Nebraskans through meetings and surveys in developing the brand.

From the beginning, he said, people expressed an attachment to “The Good Life” slogan, which had been dropped from official state marketing efforts years ago.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9583, martha.stoddard@owh.com

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Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-473-9583.

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