Fort Worth Branding — It’s Way
Different Than Dallas

22/03/2023



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Fort Worth and Dallas are two cities located in North Texas, only 37 miles apart, yet worlds away in how they both are perceived to conduct business, attract tourism, and generally live and play. I’m often asked how my hometown of Fort Worth is different from Dallas. I nearly always say, and with utmost respect to my neighbor, that Fort Worth does business on a handshake and Dallas uses contracts, lawyers and CPAs before any real business begins. It’s only apropos that both cities have unique (and very different) brand identities and brand strategies. I’ll explain.

To understand a city’s brand, you must understand its unique stance and what it’s known for — whether that be its tourist attractions, its people, or any number of other things like its popular events, agriculture, geography, recreation or sports.

Let’s First Look at Fort Worth

Often referred to as “Where the West Begins,” Fort Worth is known for its Western heritage, culture and warm, friendly folks. After all, Fort Worth has been recognized by Condé Nast’s readers as one of the friendliest cities in America.  

Part of Fort Worth's brand positioning is its Western heritage, including The Stockyards

This city’s brand emphasizes its rich history and its connection to the American West. The Fort Worth Stockyards is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions and showcases the city’s cowboy culture. Additionally, the city’s branding includes its museums and art institutions, such as the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the Kimbell Art Museum.

What Dallas is Known For

On the other hand, Dallas is known for its contemporary, urban lifestyle. This city is recognized for its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, and its high-end shopping, dining and entertainment options. The city is also home to several large corporations and is a hub for business and finance. Dallas’ brand also includes its sports scene, with the Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Mavericks being two of the city’s most iconic brands.

A contemporary, urban lifestyle is part of Dallas' individual branding.

Branding Strategies for Two Different Cities

In terms of tourism, Fort Worth attracts a more specific type of visitor who is interested in Western history and culture, while Dallas appeals to a broader range of visitors, including those interested in business, shopping and entertainment. In terms of attracting businesses, Dallas’ thriving business community makes it a more attractive destination for companies looking to relocate. Although, Fort Worth is quickly becoming a hub for many large corporate headquarters migrating in droves because of the land availability, economic development incentives and overall cost of living.

Brand Positioning Strategy Compared

The logo and messaging identity of a city is an important aspect of its overall brand, as it helps to visually communicate the city’s unique personality and values. Both Fort Worth and Dallas have distinct logos that reflect the different aspects of their respective brands.

Previously we mentioned that both Fort Worth and Dallas have unique brand identities that set them apart from each other because of their cultural assets and business mindset. Fort Worth’s focus on its Western heritage and culture, as well as its museums and art institutions, make it a destination for those interested in history and culture. Meanwhile, Dallas’ emphasis on its modern atmosphere and business community make it an attractive destination for companies and visitors seeking shopping, dining, entertainment and business growth opportunities. But how are these attributes reflective in their logos, messaging and other visual branding?

Logos as Brand Strategy Examples

The Fort Worth logo features a longhorn and the wordmark in a traditional serif font, which is meant to evoke the city’s founding as a railroad and agricultural hub. It’s a nod to the city’s connection to the cowboy culture and its rich history — its foundings as a cattle town in the 1800s. It was designed in 2000, influenced by a longhorn head sculpture in the Stockyard’s National Historic District’s Livestock Exchange Building and is the origin of the name “Molly,” which is said to identify the first longhorn in a herd.

Part of Fort Worth's successful brand strategy, this logo is a great example of incorporating core values in the branding process

This logo identity did become a point of contention with the University of Texas, whose logo is also representative of their longhorn mascot Bevo. In 2002, the City of Fort Worth entered into an agreement with UT to specify its use in a very specific way to extinguish angst among the UT System. (Image source: https://ftwtoday.6amcity.com/the-city-of-fort-worth-official-mascot)

In contrast, the Dallas logo features a stylized “D” with a simplified, bright green tree centered inside of the D shape. The logo is meant to convey the city’s professionalism and its focus on business and finance. According to the city at the time when it was first presented in 1973, the use of the three-leafed tree inside the branded D helps to reinforce the quality of life in Dallas and to bring about feelings of “greenery, growth and concern for the environment.” You can read more about the logo’s history here.

Logo for City of Dallas, a recognizable part of the city's brand positioning and brand building

Let’s Break Down the Logos and Each Marketing Strategy More

In terms of color, the Fort Worth logo is predominantly blue and brown, which is meant to evoke the city’s connection to the American West. Think prairie land and blue sky for miles. The blue color also conveys a sense of stability and trust, which is important for a city that is looking to attract businesses and tourists. Meanwhile, the Dallas logo is predominantly a brighter blue and bright green, which are combined as energetic colors that convey a sense of excitement and innovation. The logo helps to emphasize the city’s contemporary, forward-thinking brand identity. The blue and green is sometimes used in combination with other colors, such as black and gray.

Another key difference between the two logos is the use of typography. The Fort Worth logo uses a distinctive serif font that is meant to evoke the city’s traditional and historical heritage. The font is designed to be bold and legible, which helps to communicate the city’s strong and confident brand identity. On the other hand, the Dallas logo uses a modern, sans-serif font that is designed to be clean and straightforward. The font is meant to convey the city’s focus on business and commerce, and its forward-thinking focus on innovation and progress.

Why is Brand Positioning Important for Cities?

Fort Worth and Dallas’ brand identities count on unique messaging, imagery and brand voice.The City of Fort Worth and the City of Dallas have each created a detailed brand positioning strategy to ensure consistent and effective communication of their respective brand identities. These brand guidelines outline the visual and messaging elements that should be used when representing each city, including the use of logos, colors, typography and tone of voice.

Use Imagery to Highlight a Brand’s Uniqueness

Messaging can come from its use of imagery. When you look at Fort Worth’s popular websites like Visit Fort Worth, they emphasize the city’s Western heritage and cultural attractions, such as cowboy hats, horses and images of the city’s skyline and downtown area. The photography is designed to be bold and attention-grabbing, helping to communicate the city’s strong and confident, yet approachable brand identity.

In contrast, the City of Dallas’ brand, represented in similar websites, often leans more toward the city’s business development and fast lifestyle, featuring images of its high-end shopping, dining and entertainment options. Their imagery is designed to be sophisticated and stylish, conveying the city’s focus on innovation and progress.

Brand Success with Tone of Voice

The tone of voice used in each city’s branding is also different. The City of Fort Worth emphasizes the city’s friendly, approachable and authentic personality, using language that is conversational and down-to-earth. The tone of voice used in many of its tourism and commerce sites is meant to reflect the city’s Western heritage and its friendly, welcoming community. In contrast, the City of Dallas’ tone emphasizes the city’s sophistication, innovation and social atmosphere, using language that is professional, confident and forward-thinking. The tone of voice is meant to reflect the city’s focus on business and commerce and its innovative and dynamic community.

Brand Strategies Compared Through City Websites

The official websites of Fort Worth (fortworthtexas.gov) and Dallas (dallascityhall.com) serve as important portals for residents, tourists and businesses to learn about and interact with the cities. These websites also play a significant role in reinforcing each city’s brand identity.

The website for Fort Worth (fortworthtexas.gov) is designed with a nod to the Western aesthetic, featuring several images of its downtown skylines at sunset and, since the sun sets in the western sky it is subliminal to its tagline, “Where the West begins.” The website’s color palette is predominantly blues and warm tones in the photography, again conveying a sense of stability and trust. The website’s layout is clean and straightforward, with wavy graphical elements that make the user feel as if it’s easy to navigate through city services, events and attractions. Like everything else, is is designed with intention — Fort Worth wants to be known for its ease of doing business as well as warm and welcoming people.

Your website is an important place to communicate your unique proposition as a city open for business.

In contrast, the website for Dallas (dallascityhall.com) is designed with a more modern, cosmopolitan aesthetic. The website also features images of the city’s skyline, but are all daytime photos, including a predominant image of its City Hall. The color palette is predominantly bright blue, which is a bold but simple color that conveys corporate innovation. The website’s layout is also clean and straightforward, but less dynamic and more boxy than Fort Worth’s website.

Communicate the specific value of your city in your website, like Dallas does here.

Another key difference between the two websites is the use of typography. The website for Fort Worth uses a distinctive serif font for the body copy, reflective and complimentary to its logo. On the other hand, the website for Dallas uses a modern, sans-serif contemporary font throughout, also similar to its own city logo.

Why Marketing Strategy Matters on Websites

The official websites for Fort Worth and Dallas serve as important portals for residents, tourists and businesses to learn about and interact with each city. The visual design of each website reinforces each city’s unique brand identity, with Fort Worth’s website emphasizing its persona of being friendly and approachable and Dallas’ website emphasizing its business-centric and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Both websites are designed to be user-friendly and provide easy-to-find information about each city’s services, events and attractions.

Diving Deeper into Strong Brand Strategy

A city’s brand strategy is very important because it could mean the difference between thriving commerce and a dysfunctional, over-budget, under-populated, unhappy community. When marketing its best attributes, a city must highlight what it does well, what its best assets are and what comes easy to them. To portray something different is deception. In addition, attracting the wrong kind of business, tourism and residents can lead to economic pitfalls and a less-than-perfect reputation.

A city's business success as much to do with brand strategy and market differentiation

To give you examples of Dallas and Fort Worth’s brand strategies, I’ll begin with the paid side of commerce because it is easily seen across the advertising and news spectrum. Visit Fort Worth often advertises to the convention business, focusing on the industries of film and music because of their recently formed Film and Music Societies. These are quickly growing businesses and allow for large amounts of money to be spent in a city in the short and long term. While in the north and to the east, Dallas is promoting and attracting tech industries nationwide (and internationally) for similar reasons: huge economic opportunities. They both appeal to what they do best and what their infrastructure can handle, like transportation, hotel, event facilities, landscape, and experts in the fields in which they tout.

What Did We Learn About Brand Positioning?

In conclusion, the branding, brand positioning and brand strategy for the City of Fort Worth and the City of Dallas serve as important tools for ensuring consistent and effective communication of each city’s unique portrayal of who they are and how they’ll be perceived by their constituents. The two cities have taken different approaches to the use of color, typography, imagery, tone of voice and logo use in their branding, in addition to different approaches for reflecting their brands and attracting business.

Attract customers and new business by communicating a clear vision of who you are, like the City of Fort Worth

Which city’s approach best fits your style? We’d love to talk with you about your city’s brand positioning and how our branding and marketing experts can excel your city to the next level. Call us at 817-335-0100.

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