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Bayfield County enhances emphasis on tourism
How exactly do you go about defining the state’s second largest county – a county that borders the world’s largest freshwater lake and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; home of the Best Small Town in the Midwest; the start to the nation’s largest Nordic Ski race; endless ATV and other recreational trails; hundreds of lakes and incredible fishing; diverse arts community; tasty local food; outnumbers acres of public land to people; and is likely one of the only counties in the nation without a single stoplight?
This was the task put before Bayfield County Tourism Director Mary Motiff and a handful of chamber directors, along with tribe support this past year.
“For a number of years, the chambers have all worked to develop materials that define their community and represent their members,” Motiff explained. “My role is to work with the chambers to develop a brand identity for the entire county.”
The initiative comes after a restructuring of the county’s tourism department in the past year. Tourism previously was clumped with managing the parks and trails within the county, along with the county fair. Today, parks and trails are managed by forestry, and additional staff has been added to focus on the fair, allowing Motiff to finally focus on marketing Bayfield County as a tourism destination.
To accomplish this task, she is working with Platypus. The agency, which also does work for the town of Bayfield, was awarded an $8,500 contract to develop a core brand promise, logo and tagline. After interviews and several months of meetings, the process is now complete.
Cable Area Chamber of Commerce Director James Bolen said involving the chamber directors was important to ensure consistency countywide.
“The communities … have a large impact on how the county is perceived overall. In order to really effectively communicate our message, the marketing must be consistent,” he said. “This means the marketing efforts of the communities within the county should be tied together with the counties in order to deliver the most powerful impact possible. It will also be important for all of the communities within the county to make sure our brands compliment the counties overall brand.”
Bolen said the initiative is also important outside of Bayfield County.
“As a member of the Governor’s Council on Tourism, I can also say that, in similar fashion, Bayfield County is a ‘community’ within Wisconsin and it is important for the county’s brand to compliment Wisconsin’s overall brand as well.”
Keeping all of this in mind, the county’s new tourism core brand promise is:
“Bayfield County offers visitors a bounty of choices to escape everyday stress while pursuing their passions, whether adventurous or restful, in an environment that continually exceeds expectations.”
The committee has also agreed on how to represent this visually. A logo featuring trees water and stars was created along with an accompanying tagline that simply states “Above Expectations.”
Bolen said this process is an important key to the county succeeding.
“Branding Bayfield County is critical to future economic success, not just for tourism but for every aspect of business within the county. A brand tells people what kind of values and characteristics people associate with Bayfield County. It is not a logo or a tag-line; it is how we are perceived by the general public.”
That process is also important because it sets the county apart from other tourism areas.
“Branding is the most powerful tool for positioning our county, setting us apart from our competition, and reaching our target market. The process of creating a brand is very beneficial as well, since it forces you to articulate, in a clear and concise way, the core values of Bayfield County.”
From here, Motiff said this visual identity will begin appearing on all of the promotion the county oversees immediately. This includes the county visitor’s guide, ATV maps and the website. Currently in the process of being redesigned, the website will be unveiled in early 2014.
“We’re spending a lot of time planning how to make the user experience more interactive,” Motiff said of the new website. This will include a number of features ranging from a blog, better calendar system, photo galleries, opinion polls and additional social media engagement.
Of the entire process, she said “When you think of everything the county has to offer, it is unbelievable. In addition to what each community has to offer, we’re also part of something even greater.”
Beth Probst is a freelance writer based in Iron River.Previous BusinessNorth Exclusives Articles:
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