Invest Miami: Miami’s Global Brand Transcends Sun and Surf

tadd-schwartzBy Tadd Schwartz,  President of Schwartz Media Strategies

Population growth, inbound investment and an improving job market are all driving Miami’s economy, but it’s our City’s image around the world that’s proving to be our secret weapon.

This brand transformation has not come overnight.

When Miami Vice debuted in 1984, the world’s perception of Miami consisted of neon lights on South Beach, sun-kissed bodies and flashy sports cars. Fast forward 30 years and many of the elements fictionalized in Miami Vice are realities of the Miami of today – an international metropolis known as much for its culture and commerce as its sun and surf.
Investment guru Barry Sternlicht put it this way in a recent interview: “I see Miami as the Singapore of the United States,” drawing a parallel between the Magic City and one of the world’s great business and finance hubs.

The similarities are evident in the cranes dotting our skyline, the billions of dollars being pumped into our economy, and an increasingly diverse population as new residents emigrate here from around the world. It’s also apparent in the way we talk about ourselves. Words like “global,” “world-class” and “gateway” have become everyday descriptors for our city over the past decade, both locally and abroad.

It’s little wonder why. Miami’s brand is on an upward trajectory, becoming cosmopolitan and worldly at warp speed. The days of glossy tourism brochures chock full of beaches and bikinis have given way to images of dazzling museums, bustling downtown streets, waterfront parks and jaw-dropping architecture.

Our global appeal reflects our ability to weather economic ups and downs, the untold dollars that have been spent on improving our public infrastructure and continued investment by private companies looking to grow here. It’s also a result of coordinated public relations and marketing campaigns launched on behalf of tourism bureaus, the business community and local municipalities.

Programs like the “Where Worlds Meet” tourism and economic development initiative, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s “It’s so Miami” campaign, and the Miami Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) ongoing efforts to lure hedge funds and financial services firms are shaping perception from Buenos Aires to Beijing.

Florida’s recent leap past New York to become the third most populous state in the union is the latest sign of our growing appeal. Miami is fueling much of this growth, with the population in our urban core alone doubling in size since 2000 — from 40,000 to more than 80,000 people — according to the Miami DDA.

A recent Forbes report recognizing Miami as the country’s “happiest place to work” adds more fuel to the fire.

It’s tempting to credit Florida’s dramatic population growth to a rebounding economy, favorable tax policies and beautiful weather, but Miami’s brand is an increasingly potent factor.

Let’s face it: our city has sex appeal. People want to travel and live here. Companies want to do business here. And investors from around the world want to own a piece of the action.

As the domestic economy holds its own amidst international volatility and U.S. cities compete for business and tourism, our public and private sectors must continue investing in activities that broadcast Miami’s story around the world.