BRADENTON -- A full-out assessment of Manatee County’s “brand identity” will take place over the next five months to find out if it’s working, the county’s tourism leader said Thursday.
“We need to make sure our brand is effective in the marketplace,” Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Tiger Bay Club. “If it’s not, we may be throwing money out the window.”
Falcione said the bureau is on the verge of choosing an independent consulting firm that specializes in destination marketing and branding. That firm will analyze the bureau’s logo, the font style and colors it uses, and other aspects of the overall Manatee County brand identity to see whether it effectively reflects the area’s strengths to tourists and the corporations involved in the tourism industry.
The firm will also examine “subidentities” of area highlights like the Manatee Convention Center and the Powel Crosley Estate, and of different areas within the county like Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and Lakewood Ranch. The goal will be to find out whether those subidentities contribute to increasing the overall area’s tourism appeal, Falcione said.
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“We want them all to be integrated, so that consumers outside of Manatee County, anytime they’re looking at one of these brands, know what they’re looking at and what we’re all about,” he said.
The firm’s analysis will include talks with community members, elected officials and tourism industry leaders. The process may end up reconfirming the strength of existing brand identities, Falcione said, or could lead to recommendations for tweaks or changes.
The area’s current brand identity, he said, is an “island culture style brand” that includes “an old Florida feel” in a “low-rise, low-key setting that is quiet and cozy.”
The process is meaningful to the local community as well as tourists, Falcione said, because the tourism industry sustains 18,000 jobs throughout the area and has a countywide economic impact of $750 million.
At least one local official is in support of the effort.
Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston said “it makes sense” to evaluate whether all of the sources of branding in the county are “unified and going in the same direction.”
“We’re all trying to do everything we can to draw people here and to draw businesses,” he said. “We’re reinventing the economic vitality of the county, and branding is an important piece of that.”
The cost of the brand analysis is not yet known, Falcione said, and the project will be funded by tourism tax dollars.