While larger cities typically tout their large and varied restaurant scenes to attract new residents and tourists, smaller cities can use food for branding themselves, too. Here are a few examples how:
Asheville, N.C., a.k.a. "Foodtopia" has a collection and diversity of restaurants, renowned chefs, farmers markets and small local producers that proportionate to its population, rivals cities 10 times its size. A longtime haven for artists, Asheville's allure hasn't eluded those who prefer to be creative in the kitchen. The city's convention and visitors bureau launched its Foodtopia campaign to help connect those delicious dots within this Blue Ridge Mountain town of approximately 85,000 people. The campaign, which uses food for branding to enhance its overall tourism branding strategy, includes a section within the CVB's ExploreAsheville.com website.
Pueblo, Colo., identified the mirasol chile, or green chile, as its signature "flavor" decades ago, then launched the Loaf 'N Jug Chile & Frijoles Festival to celebrate it. Keep in mind that the key in using food for branding in this case started with the originality of the food chosen. While it's possible to run across several events nationwide dedicated to more mainstream fruits or veggies any given weekend, there is only one Loaf 'N Jug Chile & Frijoles Festival. Now when you hear "green chile," you think "Pueblo."
Promote to Food Media
I don't know exact figures, but anyone who watches TV, reads magazines or surfs the Web can tell you that a significantly larger amount of people are focused on food. If you're a small city with an interesting food-related story, whether its about a dish celebrated community wide or a truly unusual restaurant, pitching the story to food-focused media can get your city a national audience. For example, a Green Chile Slopper duel between two of Pueblo's oldest restaurants showed up on The Travel Channel's Food Wars.