Branding L-A: What slogan would you choose?

People feel a lot of "Great" in the Twin Cities.

Sun Journal illustration

What we say about Lewiston-Auburn:

What they say about other towns:

And "Falls" and "Future" and "Forward" and "Together." Not to mention the words "Twin" and "Cities" and "L-A," as you might expect.

Those were among the most commonly used words in the many suggestions made by Sun Journal readers for a new Lewiston-Auburn slogan to replace "It's Happening Here."

A subcommittee from the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce and the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council has been working on a new slogan project for about a year.

Calvin Rinck, marketing director for the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, said the group hopes to start advertising for a  marketing firm to lead a formal naming process this summer.

But back in February, Sun Journal Executive Editor Rex Rhoades decided to ask readers for their ideas. He asked them to send their slogans and tagline suggestions to the paper and he promised a $20 bill in a gold-colored envelope to the creator of the best one.

Readers responded, sending in 151 suggestions. Most submitters were from Maine. One was from Michigan. Starting today, we're asking readers to vote on their favorite. Two weeks from now, we'll announce the winner. Maybe Rinck's group will find the input helpful in eventually creating a new slogan for the Twin Cities.

But that's not the way professional slogan-wranglers usually work, according to California-based writer and consultant Eric Swartz. Professional tagline creators usually try to figure out the message first, then hone it down to the simplest, most basic phrases.

"A tagline expresses an idea," he said. "A tagline is incidental, almost an empty vessel, if it does not have a good idea running around in it somewhere. It's just words."

Swartz, known online as the Tagline Guru, makes his living helping communities, businesses and advertising firms come up with exactly the right phrase to describe what they're selling.

Swartz said there are differences among a moniker, like Bangor's appelation as the "Queen City of the East," a motto like Auburn's "No Steps Backward" and a slogan or tagline like "It's Happening Here." The first two are names or identifiers that could be historical or anecdotal.

But slogans have a purpose — selling the community.

"If there's a good idea underlining it, something bold, imaginative or even funny, it makes people want to know more or learn more," Swartz said. "The thinking has to go beyond the city limits when they create their tagline. And they have to think of who they want to attract: Is it tourists or do they just want to build the business base?"

The slogans our readers sent in included the gooey, the puzzling and the personal.

One suggested "Crystal Blue Persuasion," a pop song that was atop the charts when he graduated from Lewiston High School.

Another suggested the earnest "A Really Nice Place, believe me!" And another put forward the innocently honest "We've Got It All — Or Soon Will Have It." (For the full list of suggestions from readers, go to

While Swartz didn't cast his professional judgment on those two in particular, he said things like community pride and a vision for what the community could be are elements to consider in the making of a successful slogan.

"It has to resonate with the residents," Swartz said. "It has to resonate with who they feel they are."

Swartz has helped design winners for other communities and organizations, such as "Real East Texas living" for Longview, Texas and "Our roots are showing" for the Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau in central California.

"Tri-Valley was a lot like your Twin Cities," Swartz said. "It was a large area with a lot of constituent interests and everyone wanted the slogan to hit their key attribute. In this case, it had three things that made it unique: a wine-growing region, historic downtowns and an unpretentious, down-to-earth personality. I came up with one slogan that encompassed all three and everyone walked away happy."

He curates and collects other city slogans on his website, ranging from winners to clunkers. Favorites include Yuma, Ariz.'s punny "Enjoy Our Sense of Yuma" and the one for Eagle Pass, a Texas border town with the colorful slogan "Where Yee-Ha Meets Ole."

"You have to communicate an experience that can't be duplicated anywhere else," he said. "Otherwise, you really do have a cookie-cutter, 'me too' kind of slogan."

That can make a big difference.

"Remember that Cleveland used to be 'The Mistake by the Lake,'" he said. Then they built the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

"Now, 'Cleveland Rocks,'" he said.

Other tips: Make the tagline memorable. Show why the area is unique and pleasant and a place people want to visit.

Most of all, be concise.

"If you can't put it on the back of a business card or make an elevator pitch, people just walk away with just a lot of gobbledygook," Swartz said. "It doesn't help if there is nothing succinct, terse or a compelling idea."

And what a community does with its new slogan is what really matters.

"You're better off with a mediocre slogan that actually gets marketed and promoted than a great one that gets left on a shelf," he said. "A slogan is as good as it is communicated on your websites and everywhere else."

In that respect, Swartz said the Twin Cities' "It's Happening Here" campaign was a winner. Local marketing officials on both sides of the Androscoggin used it in television commercials, in print ads and brochures and at trade shows around New England.

"It's like a commercial; you have to keep hammering on it," he said. "If it's good, it'll catch on."

Sun Journal illustration

Which slogan would you choose? Cast your vote | Slogans from readers 

The unusual, funny or puzzling from the slogan entries

  • Crystal Blue Persuasion
  • LA - AL Turned Good
  • Legitimate Lewiston Auburn Accompany
  • Legitimate Lewiston Auburn Always
  • L-A: "She's A Brick-House!"
  • Checking our Review
  • Bridging the G.A.P.S. (Gray Areas People Support) changing the world
  • Exlax: It Has LA In It!
  • Old Cities Never Die, Just Fade Away
  • History Never Dissolves
  • Lewiston.....across from Auburn!
  • FA LA LA = L/A
  • A Variety Show
  • Great Falls A-fire!
  • No Greater Goals
  • All Worlds Overlap
  • L-A: Walking distance to beach!

Maine monikers and mottoes

  • "No Steps Backward" — Auburn
  • "The Queen City of the East" — Bangor
  • "The City of Ships" — Bath
  • "Earmuff Capital of the World" — Farmington
  • "Land of the Porcupine" — Madawaska
  • "The Star City" — Presque Isle
  • "Lobster Capital of the World" — Rockland
  • "A Place to Watch" — Skowhegan
  • "Toothpick Capital of the World" (former slogan) — Strong
  • "The University City of Maine" — Waterville
  • "Our Latchstring Always Out" — Yarmouth

Slogans from other Auburns and Lewistons

The gold standards: Some of the most memorable place slogans in the U.S.

You may forget the town, but not the slogan

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David Russell's picture

How about "Lost City"

To me, Lewiston has been lost. I lost her years ago.

I was born and raised in L-A. I graduated from the old Central Street Lewiston High School. I loved L-A and believed it to be the best place in the northeast. In the early 90's, I moved away to get a doctoral education. During subsequent vacations to the city, I observed how it was declining, how crime was rising and welfare rolls increasing, and how refugees were taking over the overall complexion of the city. I don't mean skin color. I have no problem with that. I mean the attitudes, the culture. Darn it! I don't want my culture to change overnight. I don't want to walk down a street that I played on as a child to see clothing and customs and hear languages that I don't recognize. I was perfectly happy to hear English and French in the same sentence. I could understand most of that.

I actually love other cultures, but I don't want to be forced to adopt any of them. I visit other countries and enjoy the differences and love the people. But when I am in their country I respect their differences and adapt. I would and should expect the same of them coming to MY country, my city. I don't see that and I resent it. I resent it anywhere it occurs. I don't resent their culture; I resent them changing mine. Perhaps I would feel differently if it occurred over generations, but it hasn't, it doesn't.

And the Somalians are only a part of why Lewiston is lost to me.It seems like a city of hopelessness. Like a Stephen King movie begining to unfold with emotionless corpses walking about with vacant eyes and no particular place to go. When I was a young man, Lewiston had its shoe shops and textile mills and there were jobs and lots and lots of money floating through the environment, settling down here and there to those who siezed on the opportunities the cities presented. On my return from academia, those opportunities were no longer common. Lewiston was no longer the place I could love. No longer the place I wanted my family to be. No longer a place I wanted to watch and try to take pride in. So, my return turned again and I settled elsewhere.

I miss what I remember of Lewiston but I will remember her as an ex-lover whom I grew to detest. Bittersweet. Lost.

Jason Theriault's picture

Sorry, but...

You lost the right to dictate how Lewiston grew in the 90's when you moved away.

And, in case you didn't know, this is their country too. They are opening stores on Lisbon street, and graduating from LHS and going onto higher education. And unlike alot of the white kids, maybe they will stick around, and help Lewiston keep growing.

You know, where you see defeat, I see opportunity and progress.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Did you read his post or did

Did you read his post or did you skip every other sentence. He makes a whole lot of sense. He gave up no rights when he went away; he simply saw it for what it was when he came back by having had something else to compare it to.
When I moved to Lewiston in '75 I liked it because it reminded of how Lowell was back in the late '50's. What a difference 38 years have made, and no, that is not necessarily a compliment. I see Lewiston more as Purgatory; it ain't Heaven and it ain't Hell.

Jason Theriault's picture

No I read his whole post.

I read his whole statement, I found most of his arguments stupid. He loves the Franco culture in Lewiston, but complains about the Somalis bringing their culture with them? Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's exactly how the Franco culture came here. I'm pretty sure Maine was part of Massachusetts, not Quebec.

The Franco settlers brought their culture heritage with them. It made us better. The Somalis are just doing what the Franco immigrants did before them. And if you look at Lisbon street, it is far more vibrant that it was 10 years ago.

BTW- Not being heaven or hell make it in the middle, just like the rest of Earth

David Russell's picture

Glad you read; sorry you didn't understand.

Sorry you find my "arguments" stupid.

I don't think I would have said that I "love" the Franco culture, though I surely don't mind it. I was raised in it and I guess you could say it is a part of who I am and I happen to like who I am. On the other hand, I would NOT like to have the Somalian culture as a part of me. It's fine for them and I respect it - in their own country.

Maine has always had a high percentage of Canadian-French population. And why not? Being on the Canadian border, one should expect it to be so. As for me, I have no verifiable Canadian French blood in me, though some of us believe we may have a (Parisian) French connection back there somewhere. The Canadians came to the Lewiston area, built what was once a nice community and created many, many jobs for themselves and the locals, raiding the standard of living to a record high. As you said, "It made us better."What other culture has done that? Have the Somalians done that? Not to my knowledge.

And for that matter, when I wrote what I wrote, it was not my intent to attack the Somalians; They are only a part of what I feel has made Lewiston so unattractive, and lost, to me. It's the bums. It's the welfare mentality that started well before the Somalians arrived. It's the narrow-mindedness, the complete lack of understanding, I see, read and hear about, as evidenced, to a small extent, by your responses. It's the degradation of the educational expectations and requirements.

I applaud the fact that someone wants to laud L-A, perhaps to begin restoring L-A to what it once was. However, before that should happen, changes need to be made in the way the cities think as a whole. Sadly, I do not yet see any evidence of that. Sadly because, like the ex-lover I previously referred to, I still have feelings for her. I just can't live with her.

Okay, maybe I do love the Franco cultural thing.

Jason Theriault's picture

Stupid is too strong.

I think it's too soon to judge .

First off - yes, alot of them will be on welfare and government assistance, maybe even all their lives. They grew up as nomadic farmers, so transitioning into a modern day economy where even high school grads have a tough time finding work will be impossible for some of them. However, their kids should do alot better, and their kids better still.

Culturally, they haven't merged because that also takes time. Integration isn't something that happens overnight, and the only thing to do is be patient.

This isn't to say that there isn't anything we can do to speed the process, but alot of this will change in a generation or two,just like it did for the Franco population. And if we can attract more jobs to the area, which I think is a larger issue, I think that will help everyone.

And Stupid was too strong a word to describe your arguments. Incomplete would be better. You have seen snapshots of Lewiston, but I think it was worse in the 90's, and has been improving. And the Somalian population seems to be doing better as well. Maybe I'm biased, but I see Lewiston welcoming the refugees as a great deed. We have taken in people who were facing genocide, and aside from a few bumps here and there, have given them a home. It is a great thing the city has done, and I want to make sure it succeeds.

David Russell's picture

Much better attitude

Thank you for a rational response. I actually agree with your latest post to a large extent.

Let me point out, once again, the Somalians were only a (very) small part of my decision to move elsewhere. If they had been the only influence, I would be living in Lewiston area now. As I agree with what you said about time being of essence, I would have easily adapted to their presence as I have adapted to other cultures in my past and will do, once again, very soon in another country.

Be healthy.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I think you'd find that the

I think you'd find that the list of parallels between the Somali and Franco migrations into Lewiston is a very short one.
"And if you look at Lisbon street, it is far more vibrant that it was 10 years ago."
I suppose if strolling the streets of Mogadishu is your thing, one could draw that conclusion.


The list

Well the list of parallels between immigrants who came from Quebec and those who came from Africa should include differences from the native population like, language, religion, education, rural traditions vs. urban, dress, culinary traditions and economic poverty. Similarities to other immigrants should include a strong enterpreneurial spirit, a strong desire to succeed economically, a strong spirit of community, religion, family and culture. I'd say that is a fairly long list. As for Lisbon Street those of us who actually remember it can still hear the honky tonks and remember the bar fights, the prostitution and drug dealing and porn shops of those past years. Oh yes and we also remember the crumbling buildings and empty storefronts too. Today you can not only see immigrant shops which are not that different from the French shops of long ago Lisbon St. and the French grocery stores of the 40's and 50's, but you can also see new restaurants, coffee shops, businesses, a college, many law offices, restored building fronts and high quality apartments. There is a difference between actual history and nostalgia.

Mike Lachance's picture

L/A: It's Happened Here!

L/A: It's Happened Here!

RONALD RIML's picture

Tabernac! Don't remind us......

RONALD RIML's picture


Because Newark got 1st Choice......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You pretty well said it all

You pretty well said it all when you recently said, and I paraphrase, that even Lewiston looked good compared to what you had left behind in Illinois.

RONALD RIML's picture

This is very true.....

Even compared to Newark by the Bay.......

Gail Labelle's picture

Branding L-A: What slogan would you choose?

I have to politely disgree with Claire here. In the year of 2000 the Somali immigrants began thier second migration to Lewiston-Auburn. Most of the early immigrants to the US settled in Clarkston Gerogia.In 2001 a small percentage of Somalia's were part of the Resettlement Program although most settle in Portland Maine. Does anyone remember in 2002 the open letter that then Mayor Laurier T. Raymond wrote to the leaders of the Somalia communtiy requesting that they discourage further relocation to Lewiston Maine, because of the negative impact it had on the city social services. This open letter outrage many in Maine and across the U.S. The 2000 census, stated 96 percent of Lewiston’s 35,690 residents were white. This is when the Somalis began relocating to Lewiston when population decline was at its most highest and the availability of housing was correspondingly high. I lived in the area at the time and was involved in many areas of this secondary migration to the L-A area. Many of the Somalian's came to the area because of the availabilty of housing and a lower crime rates. But most of all it was for the improvement of the quality of life as did many other immigrants have done over the years. L-A has great potential but it will not happen unless individuals are willing strive to make the community a great place to live, no matter where they come from.

AL PELLETIER's picture

OOH, OOH. got another one.

Want a pot hole, we've got em!

 's picture


What is the first image or thought do people have when they hear, or read, the word "Lewiston?" That is our "brand."

Volvo? Safety.

IBM? Big iron in the IT world.

Poland Spring? Refreshing clean cool water.

What do people in Maine think when they hear "Lewiston?" That, for better or for worse, is the "brand" we have earned.

"Brand" is earned. It is reality.

This exercise is nothing more than picking out a tag line. It might be an accurate portrayal of reality. It might be imagined.

We have work to do if we want to earn a new brand.


Come on guys

Boy when you say branding you really mean it. Ouch!. LA not only has a rich immigrant and patriotic history, but is the heart of Central Maine when it comes to medical care, colleges, museums, libraries, arts, restaurants, festivals, jobs, shopping and hospitality. We have much to be proud of in our schools both public and private and in our parks and nature sanctuaries. We can boast a low crime rate and a low cost of living compared to other urban centers and then there are the churches and community programs and outreach for the poor, the addicted and the mentally ill. On any given day people from all over central Maine come to LA for the services, jobs, job training and entertainment they need. And thanks to all the folks that poke fun at us we are humble too. So I hope the professional sloganeer can do a better job than what I am reading so far.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

All well and good, but I can

All well and good, but I can still count on one hand, the number of restaurants in L-A in which one can purchase a bottle of Pellegrino.

RONALD RIML's picture

Have you asked for


PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I keep getting the line, "We

I keep getting the line, "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969".

RONALD RIML's picture


"At the Hotel Hope Haven Gospel Mission".......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Mirrors on the ceilings; you

Mirrors on the ceilings; you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
Those were the days.

Randall Pond's picture

Take of your

Rosy Colored Glasses, Claire. No Everyone Doesn't get the services they need in Lewiston Auburn and Churches do help but are on very tight budgets. The Welfare System for the state wants to kick people off after five years, Period. Both Cities General Assistance Programs are using Figures from the 1970's and 1980's. Who can live on less than $490.00 a month? Both Lewiston and Auburn's G/A Amounts are in the $400.00 for Maximum income. REALLY? SERIOUSLY? Portland's is at almost $800.00 a month? Everyone's Being Helped? Yeah Right! Keep Believing that and Keep those Rosy Colored Glasses on, Claire. You live in Never Never Land Just like the Rest of the people in Lewiston. If everyone had what they needed, there would be No Homeless, No Poor, and No Unemployed. Ask your Pastor how many requests for help he or she gets in a week. I have mine and was told if he had $3,000 to $6,000 a week he would be able to help everyone in Need.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"The Welfare System for the

"The Welfare System for the state wants to kick people off after five years, Period."
That's still 3 years too many. Welfare for 2 years, you're helping a guy out. Welfare for 5 years, you're supporting his lifestyle.


The glass half full

I don't think I meant to say that everybody gets everything they need here. I think I meant to say that people come here to get help. And boy they come in droves. As an urban center it is our role to help people as they come from away to get back on their feet because they have suffered losses in their personal lives or cannot find work. Many come from the surrounding small towns and some from other states. We cannot be held responsible for the actions of DHHS nor for cutbacks in Federal funding. I think you would find that it is more expensive to live in Portland than in Lewiston, especially for housing, and that Portland also has more money than LA does. I realize that local charities are struggling but that doesn't take away from the value of the work they do. We are very lucky to have them. I agree that cuts in State and Federal programs are especially hurtful to the urban centers.

Gail Labelle's picture

L/A Slogan

Anything that is positive and will help steer the area to a change something that has not happen for many years ....
I have to disagree with one comment here, The Catholic Church did not bring the Somalians here....please google the info for the early 2000's it was one of our former mayors who brought the idea up..I do believe she set it in motion....and to correct all, our city welfare system has been laxed and easy to obtain for many years.....Another reason for the immigration of Somalia's here.....less crime available housing market downtown across from the park and yes allot of Federal governement help as well for any new immmigrants to this country if they meet guidelines.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

..."please google the info

..."please google the info for for the early 2000's it was one of our former mayors who brought the idea up"...
It was a former mayor who orchestrated the migration through Catholic Charities, by whom, if I'm not mistaken, she was employed at the time.



Once and for all, it was neither the Church nor the mayor who brought the immigrants to Lewiston. A small group was brought here by the Federal Government. If you look around the country you will find groups of immigrants resettled by the Federal Government in pretty much every urban center. Catholic Charities was contracted by the government to help them resettle. The mayor had an association with Catholic Charities and encouraged the plan. Neither the mayor nor Catholic Charities had the authority to grant visas or to decide where anybody went. The majority of immigrants here now moved here from other American cities. In this country you can move from one state to another without asking anybody's permission. In fact many of the immigrants who were settled here originally by the Federal Government, have since moved to other states. There are many reasons why some chose to move here. Mostly I heard that they came to be near friends and relatives who were already here and liked it here. People are free to be as bigoted as they want but they are not free, in all honesty, to make up their own truth.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Disagreeing with you or any

Disagreeing with you or any one else on the Somali issue does not necessarily make one a bigot, Claire. No more than disagreeing with something obama says or does makes them a racist. He is, after all, half white.

RONALD RIML's picture

Bush was half-wit. Does that count???


PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I'd have to take the Fifth,

I'd have to take the Fifth, or plead nolo contendere on that one.

Mike Lachance's picture

Immigrants??? The Somalis are

The Somalis are not immigrants.
They are "Refugees".
If they were, in fact, immigrants they would likely not be here, let alone in the US at all.
Immigrants have to meet far more requirements to gain entry to the US. Look it up. The day we stop addressing Refugees as "immigrants" is the day we start to tackle these problems. The actual immigrants here deserve at least that much from us.

Mike Lachance's picture

Immigrants??? The Somalis are

The Somalis are not immigrants.
They are "Refugees".
If they were, in fact, immigrants they would likely not be here, let alone in the US at all.
Immigrants have to meet far more requirements to gain entry to the US. Look it up. The day we stop addressing Refugees as "immigrants" is the day we start to tackle these problems. The actual immigrants here deserve at least that much from us.

AL PELLETIER's picture


"Enjoy our scenic bypass"

Randall Pond's picture

Let's See

You got Apply and get housing before they do. Or The State buy you a Car. HA! Please! The Catholic Church Brought them Here. The Catholic Church Should be Paying for the Stuff Not The Working People of Maine!

 's picture

I have this weird thing

I have this weird thing called a job, granted not a high paying job, but I make it work. No state help here big guy :) Also, half of what you just spewed out have been found to be false. If you have hatred for someone, feel free to hate on, but don't spread lies to try and justify your hatred.

Randall Pond's picture

Oh Really, Micheal?

I know countless people who have applied for free services including Free Care at Hospitals as well as housing that were denied services. I'm not making anything up. Go Spend a Day with the homeless and the low income and walk a mile in our shoes, and you'll see why a lot of us our bitter and angry. Our Country, would rather help and immigrant over it's own! We are helping 3 world countries and places of war over our own People! And you Call This Right and Fair?

 's picture

You do realize that every

You do realize that every type of government Federal, State and local are in tough economic times, have you ever thought of that as being the reason you and/or your friends getting denied? Homeless and low income, please, I spend most of my life in downtown Lewiston and in the "projects" of Lewiston. Unlike those that stayed with the status quo, I got out, am a FULL time college student and work FULL time (which is the equivalent of 2 full time jobs). I am no where near wealthy, hell I am struggling, but I make it work without help. I would say to you and whomever else if you are that "hard off", you aren't working hard enough.

Quite frankly the government shouldn't be helping anyone that isn't willing to help themselves.

AL PELLETIER's picture

That bad off, Randall?

How do you pay for a computer (laptop) and internet connection? Sorry, I just had to ask.

 's picture

L-A, where fun comes to die.

L-A, where fun comes to die.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"L/A---the cemetery of

"L/A---the cemetery of prosperity."


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