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Speer: New brand could be a memorable one

September 28, 2012
Bill Speer - Editor/Publisher , The Alpena News

Just Do It.

Finger Lickin Good.

The Un-Cola.

Breakfast of Champions.

If I were to ask you to give me the name of the product identified with the following branded slogans, I expect most of you would score 100 percent. The first is Nike, the second Kentucky Fried Chicken, the third 7-Up and the last, Wheaties cereal.

Marketers spent hours upon hours and thousands of dollars in making sure those brands are more than just words. If a brand is too work effectively, when people see those words, or view a logo, they immediately must equate the brand to a product.

Here at the newspaper one of our most successful advertising options, and one which we stress regularly with business owners, is what we call our Brand Builders program. We understand the importance of a good brand, and thus this program aids merchants in building that brand through affordable, repetitive advertising.

If a branding program is done properly, then whenever your hear "57 varieties," you immediately think of Heinz ketchup.

Successful brands are ones that transcend generations and stand strong through the test of time. Others, however, need revision from time to time.

If I were to say "a little dab will do you," every Baby Boomer reader this morning would naturally say "Brylcreem."

I doubt, however, that younger readers would necessarily associate the two.

Over the years Alpena has had many brands. In the '80s it was known as a "Warm and Friendly Port." Later, and for many years, it went by "Michigan's Advenshore."

In fact, the city's website contains both brands - the official advenshore logo over city categories on the left side of its web page, and at the Google entry for the page, it has "Welcome to the beautiful city of Alpena! A warm and friendly port!"

Currently a new brand is being considered for Alpena, one which I think has possibilities. The design of the brand's logo is modern, crisp and visual - important elements for its success. And the wording captures important elements of the community. The new slogan is "Sanctuary of the Great Lakes."

Right now the proposed brand is just that - a concept that is being proposed. While countless hours of work has gone into developing it so far, there are many volunteers and committees that will continue meeting well into the future to finalize on the eventual brand, then introduce and incorporate it into the public.

In addition to the brand, the committees also are looking at ways to make the new concept "come alive" if you will in the community, through projects and plans that focus on the community's great features. In essence, the volunteers are looking to capitalize on the "vibe" of the community so it can be properly showcased and promoted.

Deb Pardike, executive director of the Alpena Convention and Visitor's Bureau, summed things up well in a recent news story.

"A brand is a promise, and the vision has to be created so when people come here they get what they are expecting."

The vision behind "Alpena - Sanctuary of the Great Lakes" talks about Alpena being a place where one can escape from the stresses of everyday life and where one can "relax, rejuvenate and inspire the happy, healthy and creative you."

Alpena - indeed all of Northeast Michigan - has many positives going for it, especially these days. While those working on the brand have much to do in the weeks ahead, I think it will be interesting and exciting to see how this unfolds.



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