Home Opinions Why mermaids will save San Marcos

Why mermaids will save San Marcos

Illustration by: Ninette Solis | Staff Illustrator

Look at this town, isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you say our image needs to be complete?

The adoption of image branding is vital toward the success of any city. Thus, San Marcos’ decision to go with a mermaid marque might just be the savior this town needs to counter economic instability and poverty.

Outside of the confines of Texas State University is a neglected, embattled community in need of real socioeconomic assistance. According to recent census reports, approximately 37 percent of San Marcos residents live in poverty. From 2010-2014 the median household income for the city was $27,261, almost half of the national average. Solutions to this fiscal gloom are needed. As silly as it may sound, mermaid branding is one of many answers to alleviating at least portions of this economic disparity.

City branding is what economists and officials use to morph a town from a simple location into something more desirable: a destination. Turning San Marcos into a place where people want to live is sure to bring business opportunities and tourism, which will increase employment opportunities and citywide revenue by proxy.

Identity is important, and donning the mantle of the mermaid city will do nothing but help the city secure sustainability and brand image into the near future. Its step one into a complete urban redesign that will create a more economically stable city. Imperative in this branding is the mitigation of gentrification. It is up to officials to assure that residents will reap the benefits of this kind of branding, instead of being placeholders for the rich and powerful gentrifiers who will inevitably want to migrate to mermaid land.

Austin, New York City and San Francisco are popular examples of successful city brands. They did not organically just become petri dishes for trends, desirability and residential migration. Their brands were a concerted effort, over decades, by city officials. San Marcos will not be New York, but it can carve out its own niche.

Cities have to compete against one another for the attention of potential residents, employers, tourists and resources. By delicately molding a perfectly unique mermaid brand San Marcos can guarantee population progress and economic prosperity not yet realized.

San Marcos capitalizing on the river makes sense—it is arguably that most recognizable aspect of the city. While the river is home to some endangered species, Texas wild rice doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi as the ancient aquatic creatures of legend. They’re beloved, readily recognizable and fantastical. Being known as the city of mermaids, and more importantly adhering to the brand, is sure to highlight San Marcos as a desirable residential area. Who doesn’t love mermaids, or at least have some kind of nostalgic appreciation for them?

In contemporary society, movement is everything. From people to ideas and capital, the world is constantly in motion. In order to be a worthy competitor San Marcos has to place by the rules of the game, and those roles include the sale of self. Mermaids might just be the city’s saving grace. So before people riot about city council allocating $55,070 toward the erection of 10 mermaid statues, realize that as silly as it sounds, it is the epitome of utilitarianism—for the greater good.


  1. The idea might be good and the writer, whom I agree with on many points has laid a complex idea out really well on justifying this use of funds. I do not agree that $55000 should be spent on 10 Mermaid statues however. Are we going to pay local low income people to create and erect the statues? This could buy a lot of school lunches for low income kids. I think a similar project which I see as unnecessary is the beautification of the medians down Craddock for roughly the same cost. I believe in city beautification and branding however I am not sure this is the right time to brand a city with so many who are struggling. Perhaps letting the enormity of college student associations adopt medians and areas of public space around the city would be very effective. A mermaid is too specific of a brand. Cities that are successful with branding seem to be based on a loose more vague idea that captures more. I love mermaids. But mermaids, factually, are sea creatures. We are a river town. I think the brand is I’ll conceived and dumping so much into it is a bad idea in the long run.

  2. I’m a branding professional who does work in cities and urban places. We advise cities to put all your money into research, strategy and consultants to discover your most valued assets and what makes you special. What I like is that you just picked something awesome and unique, uplifting and creative and said we’re doing this. What a great investment in being unique and “well branded”. When I come out to Austin I’d driving to San Marcos to see the Mermaids!

  3. Hey, I’m a branding professional and do do work with cities and place destinations. We often recommend that you hire a consultant, do lots of research on what makes you unique, how you are special and the develop a brand. What I like about what this city did is they just picked something totally unique: Mermaids. I think it’s fantastic, fun and definitely memorable. When I come to Austin I’d driving to San Marcos!

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