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What's Grand About the Grand Canyon State?

The RFP was long, but the mission was very clear: Find out what makes Arizona the state in which more people choose to live than any other. Why is that? The Arizona Commerce Authority thought the answers might hold the key to bringing more businesses to the state and more jobs. It might make more people want to visit. Tourism was interested in that. And the state Governor felt discovering why people love Arizona may lead to more civic pride. Heasley & Partners won the contract and set out to find all that is grand in the Grand Canyon State.

The Problem

Arizona is a popular place to live. And it offers employers a very favorable business climate. But competition for business relocation and expansion is steep. Arizona competes with many other states and many other cities that have, over the years been more visible with a stronger voice and message. Arizona needed an essence, a message, that would get everyone's heads nodding, "Yes." One with which everyone in the state could agree. No matter who that person is and what kind of life that person leads. A tall order. Can there really be an overarching theme for everyone who lives in a place as diverse as Arizona? Heasley & Partners was determined to stop at nothing to find out.

The Solution

Step one in the Heart & Mind® Branding process is find the Heart. So that meant talking to as many different people as possible, with different interests, different backgrounds and in all walks of life. To do that, we did one-on-one interviews with key leaders in the community to get their thoughts on what makes Arizona Arizona, but also to get their input on groups we would want to include in our fact finding. In all we spoke with over 30 state leaders. From there we targeted approximately 20 different groups including business, economics, chambers of commerce, education, faith, arts, sciences, tribal communities, the legislature, entrepreneurs, the list went on and on. Literally anyone who wanted to participate and be heard, got a meeting or a workshop with Kathy DeGrandi Heasley.

Why start a business from Arizona brand research
Why start a business from Arizona brand research

Those interviews and workshops proved invaluable. But could the findings really apply to the masses both inside the state and outside it? Patterns form very quickly in research and the patterns were already becoming evident. We decided to test them through two methods: On the spot interviews with video-equipped volunteers who were our feet on the street. And a Heart & Mind Branding Research study of approximately 20 open-ended questions that were designed to capture both trends and stories. The latter being the most important. We invited half a million people and got 5000 surveys.

The best part... from Arizona brand research
The best part... from Arizona brand research

The reasons were plentiful from the weather, to the opportunities, to the community, diversity, affordability, open spaces, freedom, the list went on. But at the end of the day, people came here because Arizona held the promise of a better life. They stayed because Arizona delivered the experience of one too. (Our definition of a great brand is when the Promise and the Experience are the same.) In short, people agreed life's better in Arizona that it was where they came from.

The positioning statement:

"Arizona promises a better life and delivers it."

From these findings and the specific stories that we collected, the state began rolling out commerce and tourism advertising across the country and around the world. Tourism increased, new businesses began recognizing the lifestyle differences in Arizona and business growth achieved record numbers.

Heasley & Partners

  • Created the research strategy

  • Implemented in person interviews

  • Held more than 30 statewide workshops

  • Fielded Street Team video testimonial collectors

  • Designed, implemented and analyzed a nationwide Heart & Mind Branding research study

  • Developed the brand position, platform, characteristics and messaging

  • Provided creative direction to other agencies with state contracts

  • Created an energy and community spirit that spurred new-found civic pride

  • Presented the findings and results to countless groups further promoting the state

"The vibe " from Arizona study
"The vibe " from Arizona study

Quantitative findings sample from Arizona study
Quantitative findings sample from Arizona study


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