ALPENA - A place or refuge from stress, pressure and anxiety; or a sacred place. These are two definitions of the word "sanctuary," which will be used to describe Alpena in the city's new branding slogan and logo.
The new slogan "Sanctuary of the Great Lakes" was chosen after a consultant was hired and an assessment of the town was done. When implemented fully, it should help promote Alpena in the same passionate manner the Pure Michigan campaign has done for the state.
Deb Pardike, executive director of the Alpena Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said the process of finding a brand to help Alpena stick out among other places began with a secret assessment of the city and was followed with recommendations on cost-effective ways to make things better for people unfamiliar with Alpena.
"The intention was to take a look at Alpena through the eyes of a visitor, and then the consultant made suggestions on ways we can make Alpena more appealing to people from out of town," Pardike said. "This destination development project is in place to take Alpena from being a good destination to a great one."
Finding the right slogan involved identifying what makes Alpena unique and describing it in a passionate way to those who see or hear the slogan's message. Pardike said that involved utilizing things in place now and what develops in the future. She said the new brand will not be fully utilized until the promises advertised can meet expectations.
"It was taking a look at what Alpena is now and seeing what it has in terms of potential to become," she said. "A brand is a promise, and the vision has to be created so when people come here they get what they are expecting. We just aren't going to throw this out there everywhere right now. You will hear it and see it around town, but before it goes out there to the masses, we need more time to develop so we can meet the promise the brand gives."
Roger Brooks of Destination Development International has helped with the stud and branding Alpena. He also has given a list of things needed to help take Alpena to the next level in attracting visitors.
"He has recommended two major projects, and they are to a downtown plaza and a public market behind the Owl Cafe," Pardike said. "These are projects we are looking into very seriously. He emphasized a need to have a place for people to gather downtown. If the locals hang out there, so will the visitors. I have every confidence if we follow the suggestions given, we will be successful with this."
A special powerpoint presentation will be given to local business owners on Thursday. Downtown Development Authority Director Lesslee Dort said the event is not open to the public, but is being held to share the branding message with shop owners, and to get thoughts from them.
"It will be an update and to keep them in the loop," Dort said. "It is also designed to give the owners a chance to give their ideas and thoughts and to share ideas and to network with each other. Everybody seems really jazzed up about this and excited."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.