FMB Branding Process Begins

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Getting the Message Out

“Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) will help the Town of Fort Myers Beach to develop your brand to hit your key target audiences,” explained Sharon McCormick, RMA’s Director of Business Attraction & Marketing. “Your brand is the singular thought in the mind of your prospect, whether that is a resident, visitor, businessowner or anyone else, and that is our goal. What people think and say about you is who you really are, and that is your brand. Fortunately, in our digital studies so far, most people say very positive things about Fort Myers Beach so that is really good!”

Despite that initial positive presence, however, McCormick agreed that the Town is correct about investigating ways to improve its brand and understands the trepidations of those who feel that way. “We are discovering other people, especially vacationers and even those around our own office, who say, ‘Oh My God – I love Fort Myers’ or ‘Fort Myers is an amazing place,’ so they lump the two communities together. The good news, however, is the beach is the first place that tends to come to their minds, so while they may get the name wrong, they focus on the beach rather than, say, Downtown Fort Myers. We will help the Town to differentiate itself from Fort Myers, whether that be to a resident for their sense of community pride, or a tourist from Michigan or California who is making travel plans, as that sense of public consciousness is important. Know, however, you are not alone – places like Miami, North Miami Beach, and Miami Beach struggle with these issues all the time – about what makes their communities unique.”

More Than a Beach

So what makes Fort Myers Beach unique from any other Florida beach community, to stand out from the pack? “I think Fort Myers Beach is extremely unique,” gushed McCormick! “You not only have miles of this amazing beach with sugar white sand, but there is a lot of buzz about your natural components like Matanzas Pass Preserve and Bowditch Point Park at the northern tip of the island. The Mound House has fabulous history, not only about Fort Myers Beach but all the way back to the Calusa Indians. You have hundreds of restaurants and bars, from the very casual to the elegant, and wildlife watching ranges from shorebirds to dolphins to manatees and more. Throw in kayaking and jet skiing and parasailing and you have all of these things literally at your fingertips! Most beach communities are just beaches, but Fort Myers Beach is so diverse that you are far more than just a beach!”

McCormick believes as well that the split personality of Fort Myers Beach, with a tourism hub at the north end and more residential towards the middle and south, “is an enhancement! It adds to your ‘Quality of Life’ image, where you present the opportunity to not only welcome people but offer something for everyone on your beautiful island, whether you are a resident or visitor or businessowner. When we talk to people from Fort Myers Beach, you immediately get the feeling of acceptance, and that is wonderful to hear, because not every community is welcoming to visitors and strangers, but you are very accepting of others! Many beach communities preach exclusiveness but Fort Myers Beach seems so inclusive, and that is a huge part of your charm and something that works strongly in our favor! I am originally from Boone, North Carolina, and we pride ourselves on that welcoming attitude and I get that same vibe from Fort Myers Beach – very accepting and open and friendly, and that kind of attitude makes others feel good and comfortable, so that is a strong attribute.”

The Process

“Our process,” continued McCormick, “involves the ‘5 C’s’: Collect information and data; Connect the people and places in ways no one ever connected them before; Collaborate with all community groups who may not have done so together before; then Communicate and Create! After that, you return to the beginning, to collect information and data on that process.”

RMA began its work on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 29 & 30. “That Tuesday,” McCormick related, “we sat down for one-on-one interviews with Town Council members and the Chairs of the Citizen Advisory Committees. The next day, the Town held a day-long workshop on improvements to Times Square, Fountain Park, and a few other locations, and we found that very informative. We had as well telephone conversations with Town Manager Roger Hernstadt and key members of his staff.”

McCormick does not anticipate any public sessions to obtain resident and visitor input. “Council wants this to come back to them quickly, so other than the conversations we already had, the rest right now is research, then crafting the report. We will work on this straight through the holidays, conducting market research and data analysis, then will craft a position statement and brand premise to establish the goals in the plan. After that, we will get this back to the Town staff for their review to create a baseline, as you cannot know what you can achieve unless you know where you are at the start. We will then begin to develop the brand and logo and present this to Town Council in early 2020, so most likely in about three months, so they can review what we found, then together we will refine the branding plan before the Town officially adopts it and the Town staff begins to implement it, to communicate the brand and message to the broader community.”

While RMA does not plan any public input sessions, McCormick said, “Everything we will eventually develop and recommend will come before Town Council in a public forum, so the public can definitely attend those forums. If you have any questions or comments in the meantime, please pass them along to the Town and I am sure they will communicate those to us.”

Better Marketing Tools

When asked if everything is on the table, including a possible name change, McCormick replied, “The Town did not impose any restrictions, so a potential name change will be part of our analysis. That said, research indicates that community name changes are rarely done and very difficult! An obvious choice would be ‘Estero Island,” but now that there is a Village of Estero, even that would become confusing. My initial thought is that it will be easier to create a new and better message strategy around Fort Myers Beach, as your community takes a lot of pride in that name, so our goal is to give you the tools to better market Fort Myers Beach.”

McCormick concluded by saying, “RMA is excited that the Town of Fort Myers Beach selected us to implement your branding process! We are receiving nothing but positives about your community, whether it is from your Council members, community leaders, Town staff, or those we interact with, like from Times Square, as your island is home to wonderful and engaging people. With branding, as in life, when you start out in a positive position of strength, it always makes a world of difference!”