Bubil: Does SRQ need an update of its brand?


Driving past the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport the other day, I noticed how nice the entrance looks on University Parkway. The sign is professionally done, and the plantings are attractive. Never underestimate the importance of landscape architecture.

The beauty of the entrance is vitally important because it makes a visual promise to visitors that the rest of the city will look as good, or almost as good, as the sign and landscaping.

For the most part, it does.

But then the logo caught my eye. It is a little square with the outline of a jet airplane and the letters “srq” — the airport’s code.

Totally appropriate in this case, but very careful readers of this column who have incredible memories may remember that I detest the use of SRQ as an abbreviation for the the community of Sarasota as a whole.

However, I will admit that SRQ as a label for the City of Sarasota is a hip and trendy nickname that gives the community a young feeling. I can’t imagine that too many seniors in South County would remark, “Let’s drive up to SRQ and take in some theater.” But young people? Yep.

It’s an image thing. And just what is the image of our fair city? Playground for the rich retiree? Haven for the hedge-fund manager? Hangout for the random celebrity?

Refuge for the homeless?

It is all those things. It also is “The Cultural Coast,” and, according to the city’s motto, “Where Urban Amenities Meet Small-Town Living.”

That is a mouthful. And I would change it to read, “Where Urban Traffic Meets Small-Town Living.” Bring back “May Sarasota Prosper.”

Recently, a very smart reader (and there are a lot of them) sent me an article about about Miami reinventing/rebranding itself. (“Because Miami is more than a beach,” says RebrandMiami.org.)

“What is SRQ these days?” the reader asks. “ ‘The Cultural Coast’ is a bit careworn. Ditto for ‘The Biggest Little City’ and ‘Best Beaches.’ ”

Is there a better label for a new century?

“What do the demographics say?” my reader asks. “ ‘Best Retirement City’? ‘Best Place to Raise a Family’? ‘Easiest Work Commute By Car’?”

Sadly, when magazines come out with lists of superlative cities, rarely is Sarasota mentioned. Reasons: It is expensive to live in Sarasota. And crime is an issue.

But in 2012, it did top a list of best places to retire. Yay.

Readers, what do you think? How should Sarasota be branded? Are we really just the beach and culture and retirees?

The folks at the Convention and Visitors Bureau would love to hear your ideas.


Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: January 11, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.