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Re-branding the World's Most Beautiful Beaches

April 14, 2011 by Kurt Lischka

I have been following the "Beaches Of South Walton" re-branding process and went to the 2-hour presentation yesterday at the workshop at the Walton TDC (it was given in the morning and the same in the afternoon).

Comments both negative and positive were received with open ears. Most of what was presented about the new campaign, including the images, is still under development.

Type faces, colors, images, ideas, etc. are still being created and tested. The idea is to reduce the "Beaches Of South Walton" to "South Walton", with the proposed tagline of "to each. youir beach." The script you see in this graphic will be tweaked a bit and drawn to be unique.

I feel focusing on "South Walton" is fine and a step in the right direction. Without "beach" in your destination name most people feel you need beach in a slogan or tagline. Sometimes maybe you do.

I'm not sold on "to each, your beach." and suspect it will be changed sooner rather than later. I have heard a lot of comments and none positive. Too many negative connotations (like "to each, his own," implying "go to whatever beach you want we don't care.") But the main problem I see with it is that it runs counter to the goal of attempting to brand SoWal as one distinct and unique place.

It's not an easy task with strong resorts as your partners who are often better known as a brand than "Beaches Of South Walton". You either stick with what you have "Beaches Of South Walton" (and some would say if it ain't broke don't fix it), or you change up and go in a totally new direction - something different and unique like "South Walton Riviera". But not unless you are prepared to go all the way.

Sometimes it seems people can't see the forest for the trees. The incredible architecture. flavor, and diversity of our SoWal towns and the uniqueness of our coastal dune lakes should be known worldwide. Sometimes I'm dumbfounded that people still don't know about us. And yes, kind of happy about that. Do we need huge advertising budgets? Maybe not so much. Simply South Walton. SoWal.

If we were incorporated as "South Walton Beach", or Santa Rosa Beach" then that is what you would go with. Problem is that there is confusion with Santa Rosa Island (and even Santa Rosa, CA) and Fort Walton Beach. Even then with enough money and creativity you should be able to make yourself stand out, but it's not ideal.

Looking ahead, I imagine branding us "South Walton" means that when we incorporate, the smart choice will be to call the new city "South Walton" or "South Walton Beach." Even though there will likely be plenty of people who push "Santa Rosa Beach" for historic (and US Post Office) reasons. But then you would have continued confusion. It will be interesting to see what the 3rd and 4th choices are when the time comes.

Whatever route, we face a stiff challenge to stand out from 10,000 other beach destinations competing for tourist dollars. Also be sure to keep in mind that it takes years to build a brand. Keeping "South Walton" in our new brand will help with the transition. Also the three umbrellas logo will be transitioned so it doesn't go away all at once.

It was said that the current TDC logo with three beach umbreallas looks like a radiation symbol. The comment was made by someone in a focus group and simply relayed by Jennifer Jenkins of the county's advertising firm, LKM. Other comments she relayed about the current logo were "cartoonish"and "cliched". I like the tradition of the three umbrellas and wouldn't mind keeping them, but symbols aren't really needed.

As for the TDC, with having to answer to so many different bed tax providers and being part of government,  I'm  not sure they can get all the way there. However I'm pretty sure they are headed int he right direction. It is impossible to please everyone and often impossible to always get done what you want to get done.

With the money received from BP last year and the additional $8 million this year, it is nice to have professionals accounting for it and making decisions. They might not always be the right decisions but things will get done and it will be in the open.


Kurt Lischka's picture

As a happy ambassador of South Walton, Kurt loves to share SoWal with the world through stories, photos, videos, texting, social media, and even telephone.

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