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What makes Colorado Colorado? New state branding effort wants to know

Endless vistas of the mountains and plains? Endless pours of craft beers? Endless protests about gun-control laws? What makes Colorado Colorado? That's what the state plans to find out with Making Colorado, an ambitious branding effort being announced today by Governor John Hickenlooper and Aaron Kennedy, Colorado's chief marketing officer, who also happens to be the founder of Noodles & Company. The project boasts a top-notch team of local talent as well as an interactive website, makingcolorado.gov where you can offer your own answer to "What makes Colorado Colorado?"

That website invites you to "share a photo or a tweet that represents what Colorado means to you. It can be a restaurant, a business, a person, an invention -- anything at all. Your submission will be added to the library that our designers will use to create Colorado's new look and feel."

It also has a blog with profiles of Coloradans -- including this bio of Aaron Kennedy:

What brought you to Colorado?:

Well, my great grandparents, grandparents and wife are all from Boulder. So when I first visited Colorado, it felt like home to me. However, I didn't have a clear professional entry point, so I remained at my job in New York and commuted until the lightning bolt struck to create Noodles & Company. I was going to move to paradise and launch one of the nation's first quick-casual restaurant chains in a state that would embrace high-quality food served swiftly -- where people care about fitness, health and quality food. So I moved here in 1993 and have never looked back!

What makes Colorado Colorado for you?

Colorado inspires me! I look at the mountains, the brilliant blue sky, the hiking trails out the back door, the supportive people, the scrumptious culinary options, and I am invigorated to be my best. To be a great husband, father, co-worker, leader, innovator, and to hike and bike and create and speak up and help out and hug my kids. That's why I'm here and why I'll never leave.

We'll be working on our own top-ten list of What Makes Colorado Colorado (and feel free to put your own suggestions in the comment section below).

Continue to read the official announcement of the state's "Inclusive Branding Initiative."

Here's the state's official announcement:

DENVER, April 2, 2013 -- Today the state of Colorado is introducing Making Colorado, the most inclusive, collaborative and ambitious branding effort ever undertaken by a state. Commissioned by Gov. John Hickenlooper and led by Colorado's Chief Marketing Officer Aaron Kennedy, founder of Noodles & Company, Making Colorado aims to uncover and showcase the best talent, ideas and creativity from every corner of Colorado....

Rather than hiring a single "place branding" design firm, the state is tapping into the energy and expertise of multiple agencies and Coloradans across this state, to build a brand for Colorado, by Colorado. Making Colorado will capture the spirit and energy that exists in Colorado today to stimulate the economy, unite statewide programs and showcase Colorado to the rest of the world. Five months from now, at the Colorado Innovation Network Summit in August, Hickenlooper will reveal the results of this one-of-a-kind initiative.

"Colorado has a heart and soul like no other state," said Hickenlooper. "We launched the Making Colorado initiative to create and market a stronger Colorado brand. Together, we will define what Colorado stands for and how to convey that to the world to help ensure our communities, culture and environment are strong and vibrant for decades to come."

"After examining a broad array of branding programs - good and bad - we built Making Colorado around the most successful practices that felt right for Colorado," said Kennedy, a former director for global brand design firm Brandimage. "Colorado is a diverse and vibrant state, but we've been fairly quiet about it. It's time to bring our compelling voice to life in a manner that balances the needs, priorities and perspectives of all Coloradans. We've gone to great lengths to create an inclusive and collaborative process, and our success will rely on the participation and support of our fellow Coloradans."

At www.makingcolorado.gov, all Coloradans will have the opportunity to submit thoughts, opinions and creative ideas throughout the five-month process. This input will then be filtered into a core group of collaborative teams, including a Making Colorado Creative Team, comprised of 10-12 of Colorado's top creative talent - including designers, copywriters and technologists - who will be selected and led by Dave Schiff, founder of marketing agency Made Movement. Using the public's input, this creative team will bring Colorado's unique qualities to life and share their concepts with the public for feedback. Applications for the Creative Agency will be accepted beginning April 15.

ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS

A Making Colorado Brand Council -- A group of state's most influential individuals and representatives from companies and organizations that rely on the Colorado brand will provide input and recommendations on key decisions. Brand Council Members include Hikmet Ersek (Chief Executive Officer, Western Union), Steve Hughes (Founder, Boulder Brands), Kim Jordan (President, New Belgium Brewery), Lynne Valencia (Vice President Community Relations, 9News) Larry Drury (Chief Marketing Officer, First Data) and many others.

A Making Colorado Youth Ambassador Council -- One high school senior from each of Colorado's 64 counties will also be selected to contribute content from their hometowns and keep local residents updated on project milestones. A couple of the Youth Ambassadors will be selected to serve on the Making Colorado Brand Council. Applications for the Youth Ambassador Council will be accepted beginning May 15.

"It is our responsibility to tell the world what Colorado stands for and a unified, engaging voice will have greater resonance than a lot of competing messages," said Kennedy. "By defining what makes Colorado great, we can preserve all that we love about our state while enhancing the stability, growth and global reputation of Colorado for generations to come."

The Networks of 9NEWS and Entravision Communications are playing instrumental roles as official media sponsors of Making Colorado, helping to promote the initiative state-wide.

Follow Making Colorado on the Making Colorado blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

From our archives: "Fifteen reasons Denver is the Coolest City."