Maybe you’ve seen the slogan somewhere around Youngstown — The City of You. It was developed by Youngstown State professor RJ Thompson — and in May — in Columbus — from a pool of 65 applicants — Thompson be given the Ohio Governor’s Award in the Arts for Community Development. “SO THIS ENTIRE LOGO, THIS IS CALLED THE ALPHA. RJ Thompson is assistant professor of Graphic and Interactive Design at Youngstown State — and the creator of the “The City of You” platform. “AND THEN THE BETA IS JUST THIS DESIGN HERE.” This afternoon Thompson showed me the largest of all the City of You banners. He explained how — through his student run graphic design agency — Youngstown Design Works — and a government grant — he was given the job four years ago of devising marketing strategies for Youngstown. His first problem… “THERE WAS NO BRANDING TO SPEAK OF FOR THE CITY.” The brand — Thompson decided — would be the City of You — which incorprates nicely with the first three letters of Youngstown. “THIS IDEA OF BUILD YOURSELF UP IN THE CITY OF YOU. YOU CAN BECOME THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF HERE, AND STAY IN YOUNGSTOWN AND CONTRIBUTE YOUR SKILLS AND YOUR CAPABILITIES TO PROGRESSING THE CITY FORWARD.” “MY FIRST REACTION WAS KIND OF GIMMICKY, A LITTLE BIT AT FIRST.” Stephen Poullas co-owns downtown Youngstown’s Soap Gallery. After he was exposed to full brand of The City of You — Poullas loved it. “AND THEN WHEN I REALIZED IT’S INTEGRATING THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY, AND IT’S MAKING YOU FEEL PART OF THE COMMUNITY, I THOUGHT IT WAS GENIUS.” A big part of the City of You platform are podcasts with people of Youngstown — telling their stories — and why the city is important to them. “WE’RE AT EPISODE 197, SO WE’RE TALKING TO A WHOLE BUNCH OF PEOPLE.” The City of You can be found on t-shirts, buttons, and lapel pins. It shows up on the sides of buildings — and was used for a Christmas greeting. But ultimately The City of You is about the people who live here. “GET THE STORIES OF THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE OUT INTO THE WORLD.” [A22]20190204 CITY OF YOU-TAG The City of You is just being used in the city of Youngstown — and not in the outlying areas. But eventually RJ Thompson would like to create similar brands for other communities — and then bring them all together in one big Mahonining Valley brand.