Fast 5: Q&A with Visit Syracuse Communications Manager Nikita Jankowski on new destination brand, Syracuse. Do Your Thing

Fast 5: Q&A with Visit Syracuse Communications Manager Nikita Jankowski on new destination brand, Syracuse. Do Your Thing
June 1, 2016 Denise Hutchins
Visit Syracuse Nikita Jankowski - Syracuse. Do Your Thing 2

Visit Syracuse (formerly known as the Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau) launched, Syracuse. Do Your Thing, a new destination brand for the Greater Syracuse Area in 2015. It was the first time the destination was given an official brand. The accredited tourism organization also unveiled a new logo, new name, new video, new song and a wonderful new outlook on regional tourism promotion.

“This is a game changer,” said Visit Syracuse Communication Manager Nikita Jankowski. “Our role is to attract more business to the area and economic growth through tourism. This brand will take us to the next level and build on our initiatives.”

In Syracuse, it’s all about the freedom to be you and do what you love. Be quirky, be fun, be fantastic, feel right at home – whether it’s being stopped at the country’s only upside down stoplight (thanks to the Irish); climbing the world’s largest indoor suspended ropes course (inside of Destiny USA, New York’s largest shopping, dining and entertainment center); getting down to a live band and finger-licking good BBQ (at the original Dinosaur Bar-B-Que); walking in the footsteps of hundreds of brave citizens that helped slaves escape to freedom – while fighting for women’s rights; scouting for Bald Eagles at Onondaga Lake Park or Peregrine Falcons downtown, experiencing the downtown urban renaissance or even uncovering the many Syracuse inventions that helped to shape America, Syracuse provides the platform for a refreshing and inviting adventure.

We sat down to ask five questions to Visit Syracuse Communication Manager Nikita Jankowski to learn more about the new branding campaign.

  1. Why did you brand the Greater Syracuse Area?

Destination branding gives a sense of place. It is the face of the region and helps strengthen the bond between the visitors and the destination. For example, tourists know that when they go to Las Vegas – what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas or when they visit New York State, they will usually end up saying I Love New York. We wanted to enhance that experience for Syracuse visitors. To do that, we had to reveal our strengths as a destination and were able to do so in those three words – Do Your Thing.

  1. What does Do Your Thing mean?

The message is about our area’s ability to take a traveler’s reason(s) for arriving here and customize it. We make their experience personal and emotional in such a powerful way that they leave with memories and a sense of connection to the area. We allow them to celebrate their passion, pursuit, hobby or relationships and while they are doing so, we celebrate it alongside them. Our brand promise sums it up nicely:

It’s time to rally your passion. Find life’s shining moments and celebrate them in a place where true colors never fade; a place where independent spirits and an energetic community come together in perfect harmony. Here is where you find your center. Reconnect the dots with the things that truly matter and make memories on historic streets. Do what makes you happy. Syracuse. Do Your Thing.

Visit Syracuse realizes it’s not just about the region; it’s also about the people and the stories they create, the passion they bring and the freedom they long for to be themselves. Do Your Thing is a bold, open-ended, action-based challenge to the over-used, under-effective tourism slogan, Something for Everyone.

  1. What obstacles did you face when creating the brand?

Visit Syracuse toiled over implementing the perfect brand for the region, a task seemingly made more difficult by the diversity of the destination. This diversity and its personalized appeal to our customers are in fact, our primary brand building blocks. The agency we hired to help brand Syracuse, BCF, eloquently captured it in three simple words, “Do Your Thing.”

  1. How did you come up with Do Your Thing?

There was quite a lot of research that went into our brand. Our customers told us what they wanted and now, our answer to them is Syracuse. Do Your Thing. The fact that Do Your Thing derived not from us, our partners or our stakeholders, but rather our customers, enables those words to speak with authority and power. Our job from here on is to personalize these words to create appeal, interest and intrigue with each individual customer we touch.

These words bleed Syracuse. Historically, Syracusans have always been free-spirited, passionate and done their thing their way. We just gave it a fitting tagline.

  1. Is the brand catching on?

Absolutely! This is not a destination message that promises “something for everyone”. This is not about selling and promoting things to see and do. It is all about communicating the freedom, empowerment and emotional connection created by the Syracuse regional experience.

We travel all around the world and the feedback has been phenomenal! This message of customization, exploration and freedom resonates across all of our market segments and types of visitors. It also creates traction with our residents and businesses. It manages to connect with our past heritage as a center for social progress while also engaging our future by encouraging individuality and uniqueness. That’s why we now own the trademark for Do Your Thing.

About Nikita Jankowski

Nikita Jankowski leads Visit Syracuse’s public relations and communications initiatives. Nikita’s role includes hosting and generating content for travel trade professionals and media representatives to encourage travel to the Greater Syracuse area; contributing to $863,000,000 of annual direct visitor spending. Nikita started her professional career as a television news reporter for ABC, FOX and CBS affiliates throughout New York State and Maine. Nikita graduated from the historic Tuskegee University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Concentration: English/Communications). She serves on the Board of Directors for the Public Relations Society of America of Central New York (PRSA-CNY), a member of PRSA’s Travel & Tourism section and is on the Advisory Committee of Social Media Breakfast (SMB) Syracuse; a national initiative for teaching, sharing and learning about industry best practices.

About Fast 5

This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 


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