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Welcome to KC Heartland

by Lexi Ryan | Nov 06, 2019

Many popular cities are experiencing a livability crisis due to the rising cost of housing, traffic congestion, increased competition for jobs and lost convenience. The KC region is in a perfect position to attract those looking for a more livable city without giving up all of the big city benefits they love. 

KCADC has spent the last 43 years as a business-to-business marketing and recruitment organization, focused on specific industry sector branding and relationship marketing with important business location decision makers. The organization is regarded as one of the top regional economic development groups in the country with successful sub brands for the attraction of supply chain investment, animal health investment and talent to KC. 

                     Logo Lockup 

As the competition for talented people has increased, civic leaders have become increasingly aware of what is necessary to maintain a competitive economy, be a destination for businesses and talent, and what the city of the future must be. Today, interest in KC’s global brand is a top priority. 

In 2018, KCADC agreed to take on the task of defining KC’s global identity … but, before any decisions were made, we promised to first listen.

The Voices of KC listening tour involved input sessions with members of the KC community at 40 different sites where the team heard from 1,000 individuals about what they believe defines our KC region. Common themes from the listening tour helped us to focus in on our region’s friendly, welcoming spirit; our arts and culture; our big city landmarks paired with a small town sensibility; and our easy going way of life.

                    Screen Shot 2019-11-06 at 4.51.30 PM 

A national survey of 1,500 American consumers and media audit of two years of news coverage of the KC region, offered a baseline understanding of what the average American may have read about KC, the values and pop culture topics they associate with the area, experiences with KC and current knowledge of our market. 

In addition to validating many of the associations we expected – Chiefs, Royals, BBQ, Wizard of Oz, and Midwest – the survey told us that the average American consumer is generally unfamiliar with what the KC region has to offer as a lifestyle and career destination, giving us a nearly blank slate to start from. 

B2B + B2C
Our national survey also told us that friends and family are the most significant influence on the decision to relocate to a new city. KCADC’s current marketing platform is primarily targeted at a business audience and those who are considering a job in the KC region.

So, in order to fully refresh our region’s image and attract the workforce needed to accelerate our growth, we must also market to a consumer audience.

After evaluating multiple new brand ideas, a powerful, authentic and widely accepted icon to represent our region was already right before our eyes.

                                         KC Heart Logo Red

Charlie Hustle began selling KC Heart t-shirts in 2011, pulling inspiration from Kansas City’s rich heritage and celebrating its location in the heart of America. The KC region has a long history with the heart, from pins worn by railroad workers in the 1900s to Plaza light poles in the 50’s and 60’s, to the patch on the sleeve of the 1942 Kansas City Monarchs baseball jersey, displayed at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

To date, more than 1 million KC heart t-shirts have been worn by people across the globe, including:

                 High profile, Hollywood hometown celebrities


                   Seen around the world and on social media

             charlie travels 2charlie travels 6charlie travels5

                   Raised more than $511K for area charities

                                        Special Olympics &amp; Charlie Hustle

There aren’t many places in the KC region you can visit, regardless of which side of the state line you are on, or if you are in an urban, suburban or rural community, and not see someone proudly wearing the KC heart on his or her chest. It has come to symbolize a resurgent pride in our community and a passion for all the KC region means to those who live here. 

KCADC met with the Charlie Hustle team over the summer and true to the collaborative spirit of KC, the response was, “We have been waiting for you guys...” The Charlie Hustle team had been discussing ways to make the heart brand bigger than t-shirts and were looking for the right organization to make it happen. There was no licensing fee required or long legal agreement, just a genuine desire to gift the KC heart brand to the community, take it to a new level and amplify all that our KC region has to offer.

KCADC’s goal is to facilitate the community’s adoption of the KC heart brand and quickly turn our focus out of market, making the heart an invitation to a relationship with the KC region. This will be a long-term, sustained effort that will require the entire KC region’s participation in order to have the impact necessary for our community to remain competitive into the future.

Within the KC region, the first expressions of the KC Heartland campaign will come in the
form of KC Heart flags flying in communities across the KC region.


KCADC’s focus on a national roll out of the KC Heartland campaign will begin in earnest in early 2020. Some of the tactical executions will include a robust digital campaign utilizing targeted posts on social media, digital advertising in key consumer outlets and digital outdoor advertising in strategic markets. 

Both large scale and small scale events are being planned in major media markets as well as cities targeted for the greatest opportunity to tell the KC story. We expect some of the most impactful ideas will come from the business community, civic organizations and place marketers right here in the KC region. 


We know we will be successful with a sustained and persistent focus on our authentic values and through the people, places and stories shared about KC around the world. 


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