Include Community in Branding

43

Since Town Council approved a contract with Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) in early September to develop a “brand” for the town at a cost not to exceed $65,000, there has been rumbling amongst the townspeople.

What exactly is a brand? Why do we need one? What’s the old one?

The town does not have an official brand now. A brand would include a logo, possibly a tagline and a consistent message and visual brand that could be used to distinguish the town as unique and different from other coastal communities. The hope is that this brand conveys what makes Fort Myers Beach unique and special. It may involve specific images or colors that reflect the attributes of the town.

We recently spoke to the company that won the bid to rebrand the town. You can read about that conversation in today’s paper. The RMA reps seem to have hit the high points of our town since they began work in late October.

They’ve heard the widely-held frustration over being confused with Fort Myers and being lumped into “The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel” by the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau( VCB). (Where exactly are the beaches of Fort Myers?) Most important to us is that they seem to have identified the inclusiveness that marks our community as different from many coastal communities.

RMA hopes to have a brand and logo ready for Town Council in early 2020.

A consistent brand to market Fort Myers Beach would be very helpful in distinguishing our town from other areas. Once we have it, we’ll need to address the need for the VCB to use it in their marketing efforts. Otherwise it will become known on the beach, but not much further.

Our only concern is the limited input they’ve sought. They’ve spoken with Town Council members, the heads of advisory committees, the Town Manager and some town staff.

Maybe they don’t really understand the value our community places on inclusiveness. We welcome those who come to our community. We also expect to have a say in town issues, and creating a brand would be a town issue..

When you start talking about “rebranding” the town and choosing a logo for the town, you can bet that community members would like to weigh in. They have ideas and concerns. If you want community buy-in, you have to let the community participate.

RMA says that community members can attend council meetings and comment on their recommendations there, which is a little bit ‘too little, too late.’ By the time those recommendations come before council, they’ll be nearly final.

We suggest that anyone who has ideas or concerns about the town’s branding efforts, share those with members of Town Council now. Council could also ask RMA to set up an email address for community input.

We also invite people to share their branding ideas with the community by sending them to us in a Letter to the Editor.

Let’s include the community as the town works on branding itself.