The notion of the brand that is Detroit and the power of that brand is a conversation that is no stranger to this blog. It’s certainly a topic that has been talked about a fair bit, from insiders and outsiders alike. Detroit’s brand power is represented by many forces– everything from grit and gore, doom and gloom, to architectural wonder, to food haven to faith-based organization and now, more and more, innovation through creativity. In many cases, that brand power is demonstrated by those in the city, but what seems a trend lately is a reflection of that brand power through the city’s exported talent.
The first reaction when you hear “export” might be to shrug it off. Sometimes it is hard to see that for some people to succeed they have to leave this place, simply because they can’t find their niche here– or in other words, a job. It’s a problem we certainly suffer from, but maybe we can use the efforts of these people when they leave as an integral part of the brand message about Detroit in creating momentum.
Just a few days ago, in West Hollywood, a restaurant called Coney Dog opened up on Sunset Boulevard. They serve, you guessed it, Coney dogs, chili cheese fries and Better Made potato chips among other Detroit staples. There are well over 5,000 fans on their Facebook page, and on opening day earlier this week, people were lined up along Sunset Boulevard to get in to the place. Interesting. Why? Well, for one, there are tons of Detroit ex-pats in LA that probably revel in the opportunity to get a taste of home. Two, there’s an alluring force to the notion of getting a taste of Detroit and experiencing it in some way. It’s that odd city that everyone around the country is increasingly curious about. In a video posted on a West Hollywood blog about the restaurant opening, a couple commented in an interview that they were dying to taste a Coney dog for the first time in there life, seemingly without any connection to Detroit. Kind of powerful.
Perhaps the momentum of Detroit’s brand forces all over the country could/should be a function of activating the momentum right here on the ground at this moment. When people in LA are experiencing Detroit through a Coney dog probably hundreds (maybe thousands?) of times a day, there has to be a way that experience can be used as a tool to kickstart momentum here and there. Sometimes a city’s forward movements, or just progress in and of itself, is directly related to the way that it’s existing forces are embraced and nurtured from the inside and out.