What can Brand Jamaica learn from Brand Boston? (In face of Bombings)

By Dr. Hume Johnson

Boston_MaRecently, I visited the city of Boston, Massachusetts, the site of the Boston marathon bombings. Thereafter I was asked to comment on my visit from a place branding perspective by the website placesbrands.com. I jumped at the idea because Jamaica has seen tragedies – too many. The consequence of these myriad negative events? Jamaica has been branded as an unsafe place, and its capital Kingston, an unsafe city. On reflecting on how Boston dealt with this crisis may give Jamaica insights into how it may wants to communicate and project Brand Jamaica even in the face of tragedy. My interviewer was American journalist Sabrina Caserta and here is the transcript of our interview.

 SABRINA: What is the atmosphere of Boston like in the wake of this tragedy?

Sabrina Caserta - Journalist

Sabrina Caserta – Journalist

HUME: Boston has always been a vibrant, energetic city with a spirited and proud people. I was in the city recently and had a superb time sightseeing and learning about Boston on their famous tourism tours. The streets surrounding Boston city center were buzzing with activity and people – shoppers, locals, visitors – everyone cheerful and enjoying the nice spring day. It was clear that Bostonians delight in their city. Tragedy may have visited Boston but the marathon bombing has not changed the core personality of this great city. Boston has proven itself to be a robust and resilient metropolis.

SABRINA: Has this attack on Boston acted as a deterrent for those seeking to visit the city? Has this attack branded Boston as an unsafe city?

HUME: The Marathon bombing certainly didn’t deter me from visiting Boston. Boston has a great appeal. The city holds a coveted place in the history of the American nation. It is a major center of commerce. Boston hosts some of the nation’s top institutions and has built itself up as a domestic sports hub. Besides its constantly immortalization in American popular culture, Boston is pretty much a magnet due its its enormously rich history, vibrant arts and music scene, and its respected educational institutions. All of this renders Boston a place where people will always flock to – to live, work or visit. boston duck tours

The bombing, unfortunate as it was, was a one–off event. It would be a gross overstatement to now brand Boston as an unsafe city in as much as I would hesitate to brand New York an unsafe place. Before the unfortunate event, Boston has never been suffered a terrorist attack in its history and the city has never truly been under any obvious threat. Of course, it’s enormously important for Boston and every American city to stay alert to terrorist threats, but it has to be careful not to become so consumed with security threats that the personality and the positive fun brand image of the city becomes lost. I personally did not feel unsafe in the city. Neither did I feel nervous or anxious or melancholy. I simply felt happy to be there, and this is the image of itself that Boston may want to maintain.

SABRINA: How has Boston communicated its brand after the Marathon Bombing?

Outside Boston's famous Fenway Park stadium.

Outside Boston’s famous Fenway Park stadium.

Boston has a famous, strong and enduring brand built on the city’s illustrious history, vibrant culture and the spirit and grit of its residents. Post bombing, Boston articulated its brand by immediately returning the city to the myriad activities that has become core to its personality and image. Bostonians have been out and about living their lives – shopping or relaxing at cafes; working, taking their kids to schools and parks – as they normally would.

HUME: Boston also communicated that it is open for business. The city’s commercial center revved up again; its noted educational institutions opened their doors; trolley tours crowded with tourists cruised through the city’s busy thoroughfares; The Boston harbor and other city landmarks were immediately accessible. Games are being played at the stadia. Boston is carrying on with what it does best – celebrating its history and culture. It is this engagement in myriad activities and events that most communicates Brand Boston post bombing and which truly defines Boston going forward.


Dr. Hume Johnson is a branding specialist. She is the Founder of the Re:Imagine Jamaica Project. Email her at reimaginejamaica@gmail.com. Or Follow Re:Imagine Jamaica on Twitter at https://twitter.com/OneLoveRepublic


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