Chesterton Tribune

Branding and logos: How should Porter market itself to prospects and tourists

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A lot will be riding on next month’s website survey of Porter residents as to their preference for a town logo, and now the Town Council’s been asked to decide how Porter should be marketed to tourists and development prospects.

The Town Council discussed both matters Tuesday with Indiana Dunes Tourism executive director Lorelei Weimer and community-based Porter Branding Leadership Team members Jackie Ruge Perkins and Nick Tilden.

Some town officials questioned the Tourism/BLT’s marketing “brand” for Porter identifying it as a family-friendly community.

Council member Bill Cantrell said if only 25 Porter residents were polled about the brand among 450 people interviewed county-wide, “Twenty-five people in a survey doesn’t really cut it for me.” He suggested seeking broader local input.

Council president Greg Stinson said although 90 percent of the town’s restaurants are closed to children because alcohol is served, Porter still can promote family-focused activities in town to pursue an aspiration if not a reality now.

Jackson Township resident and town building commissioner Michael Barry said from the outside looking in, the beach is only a small portion of Porter with all the bars in town it’s confusing to portray Porter as child and family oriented.

Asked Ruge Perkins, “Would you rather have an adult theme for Porter? I think it’s a no-brainer. Nobody would want that.”

County consultant’s input

Weimer said when Porter County Tourism previously hired Destination Development International of Seattle to help identify brands for the county and its eight participating cities and towns, DDI clearly felt only one community at that time --- Porter --- had a family component.

Porter’s downtown Hawthorne Park was part of that reason, Weimer continued, and adding amenities there like a splash pool can reinforce it. She asked the council, which took office Jan. 1, to approve the family-friendly brand.

Council member Jeanine Virtue earlier said she didn’t think anyone was opposed to it and Virtue agreed to become a BLT member after Stinson suggested closer cooperation and communication so the council can be better informed and have faster feedback.

While the town welcomes the BLT’s voluntary expertise and resources to benefit Porter, he noted, it should be clear that the BLT isn’t a Town Council committee although the group’s information and advice is welcome.

Ruge Perkins said the BLT’s interest always has been to further and better Porter, and to bring people and funding together as long as everyone is on the same page. Tilden told the council, “We need you. We can’t do anything without working with you.”

Dueling logos, the sequel

Porter long has used the orange and blue setting sun logo against the lakeshore horizon but the BLT more recently proposed using, and the previous Town Council endorsed, a beach scene with an inviting Adirondak chair dubbing Porter the Front Porch to the Dunes.

The Adirondak theme is similar to marketing efforts used on banners in Michigan’s Harbor Country.

Ruge Perkins said the sunset logo doesn’t set Porter apart from any town on the lake, and Tilden said a lot of work was put into developing a new logo for Porter. Nevertheless, “To the extent the town doesn’t like the logo is obviously something we have to deal with,” he added, but the BLT needs to know if the brand itself is acceptable.

Weimer said if Splash Down Dunes is purchased and re-opened as are the current plans, that’s a huge lift for Porter’s family brand.

Ruge Perkins said the Adirondak logo could be modified for various Porter town departments like removing the chair entirely for the Police Department yet remaining cohesive if not identical. Stinson said Valparaiso University has alternate logos with the same basic font and color but each one is very different.

At one point Weimer told council members that community leaders who volunteer to serve on a BLT “need a thick skin because any time you launch a branding effort, arrows will be shot.”




Posted 5/23/2012