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Antoinette Marie Johnson | Lessons from GreatPHL

It’s no secret Philadelphia has a “perception problem,” as Antoinette frames it. The city is known for it’s surface characteristics, like Rocky, cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, and rowdy sports fans – But is that really all there is to Philadelphia? In this talk Antoinette highlights the importance of grabbing a seat at the table to help structure Philadelphia’s reputation in a more meaningful way.

Antoinette is a branding expert and founder of Cohere, a company that helps rebrand local businesses through design.

“Branding is the art of helping someone, someplace, or something reach its full potential.”

When Antoinette’s negative quote about Philly’s iconic cheesesteak made it to the cover of the Philadelphia Business Journal, she felt that her sentiment might’ve been a little too harsh. It wasn’t that she wanted to silence Philly’s history, but instead, highlight the plethora of up-and-coming spaces and businesses that weren’t getting the attention they deserved.

In this talk, Antoinette speaks on how Philadelphia’s perception problem is not just from the outside looking in – It’s also an inferiority complex that Philadelphians have adopted. And while we don’t need to forget our roots or abandon this ‘underdog’ mentality entirely, we can revitalize Philadelphia and demonstrate our strengths in a way we haven’t before.

The question is: How do we generate a buzz around everything Philly has to offer, like arts and restaurants? What new stories are influential and worth telling?

“Let’s retire the cultural icons and highlight the differentiators.”