Local businesses to get logo boost

New branding will promote La Plata County

The La Plata Economic Development Alliance is using a new branding initiative for Durango and La Plata County. “I’m from Durango,” the new brand slogan, will use a logo representing the imagery and collaborative spirit of Southwest Colorado. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of the La Plata Economic Development Alli

The La Plata Economic Development Alliance is using a new branding initiative for Durango and La Plata County. “I’m from Durango,” the new brand slogan, will use a logo representing the imagery and collaborative spirit of Southwest Colorado.

When people see two golden arches, many immediately think of the fast-food giant, McDonald’s. It’s an example of the power of branding.

In a world with plenty of distractions, most businesses know instant, visual recognition is more important than ever. It is why some of the nation’s smallest businesses have worked hard to select memorable logos and slogans for their marketing and advertising efforts.

Now, government agencies and entire communities are looking to set themselves apart with branding and logos. The trend is spreading fast through the nation, and elected and appointed officials in numerous states are either working to brand their communities or already have.

Business and tourism officials in Colorado and La Plata County have joined the recent trend with recent brand, logo and slogan launches.

“Done well, branding tells the world something about your region very quickly and accurately,” said Roger Zalneraitis, director of La Plata Economic Development Alliance.

A logo or brand must speak volumes with just a glance, though.

“Communication today must be accomplished with less and say more than ever,” said Geoff Wolf, owner of Wolf Direct Marketing and chairman of the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance marketing committee.

The La Plata County Economic Development Alliance recently unveiled its new brand and logo for attracting new businesses to the area. The logo is simple with an X-shaped, Rorschach-like blot beneath a circle, which in combination resembles a rudimentary illustration of a person jumping with both arms spread wide.

It is offered in a patchwork of Earth-tone colors often associated with the Southwest. The illustration accompanies the brand slogan of “I’m from Durango,” designed to symbolize the region’s “laid back and friendly spirit,” Zalneraitis said. “The goal is for people everywhere to be able to find goods and services made here in La Plata County,” Zalneratis said.

Economic development officials will use the branding in their future marketing efforts and businesses are invited to use the images and slogans as well.

“Sister” brand campaigns, “I’m from Ignacio” and “I’m from Bayfield,” will begin soon, he said, giving each La Plata County community, and its businesses, an identity within the region.

The Colorado Tourism Office also recently launched its annual advertising campaign with the brand slogan “Come To Life.” The campaign’s first commercials aired this month in Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix.

“We went for an emotional approach,” said Al White, director of CTO.

White said the state’s beauty and landscape “captured my heart, it spoke to me” when he first arrived here as a young adult. That connection drove the development of the Colorado tourism brand, he said.

With the first launch of the advertising campaign, about 650 people per day are using interactive technology associated with the commercials that allows some Dish Network customers to use their remote to request additional information about Colorado.

As the advertising launches elsewhere in the country this year, White said state tourism officials are “excited about the potential” of the new campaign.

They also are advertising internationally, White said, in Japan, some European countries, Canada and Mexico. Other countries including Brazil, Australia and China could be added in coming years, he said.

A cohesive plan and brand for marketing the state is crucial for business – a hard lesson learned during an extended period in the 1990s when the tourism office “went dark” for lack of funding, White said. The dark period was followed with slim, unchanging promotions budgets for the state while other states were seeing large increases in tourism. Colorado lost a big share of the national tourism market, and it has been slow to regain market share since then.

“We’re now realizing how much that (period) cost us,” White said.

Zalneraitis said the work now being done by White’s office to close the gap and rebuild lost reputation in the tourism market should help La Plata County and every other Colorado community.

Tourism accounts for 26 percent of the base economy in La Plata County, according to a 2009 study by Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado. It is the county’s largest industry, the study said.

Meanwhile, complementary efforts to brand local cities, towns and the county will raise awareness about the region and the products made here. It also “sends a message to other businesses outside the region that (they), too, can be successful in business here,” Zalneraitis said.

Tourism dollars are important to the county and its businesses, he said. But officials really are hoping that state and local branding efforts will boost more than hotel stays and souvenir sales. Zalneraitis said he wants visitors to realize while they’re here that “this is more than a place to vacation.”

He wants them to see it’s a place where they can have “a great job and a great quality of life, too.”

hscofield@durangoherald.com

The Colorado Tourism Office is launching a new ad campaign to help lure visitors. This is one of the print-ad campaigns. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of the Colorado Tourism Office/The Denver

The Colorado Tourism Office is launching a new ad campaign to help lure visitors. This is one of the print-ad campaigns.