Oregon city living up to its ‘brand’ | SummitDaily.com

Oregon city living up to its ‘brand’

HARRIET HAMILTONsummit daily news

The city of Milton-Freewater, in northeast Oregon, takes the issue of brand image very seriously.In 2002, city leaders and local business owners got together and hired image guru Greg Stine, founder of Polaris, Inc., an Oregon-based marketing firm specializing in branding, to help them figure out how to attract visitors to their area.”We were not even a dot on the Oregon state tourist map,” said city manager Delphine Palmer.For a fee of $2,800 Stine helped the city of 6,500 inhabitants find itself.Milton-Freewater now bills itself as “Muddy-Frogwater Country, A toadly awesome place to live.”There are representations of frogs everywhere in Milton-Freewater. The city website is liberally sprinkled with frog graphics. According to Palmer, more than 35 brightly colored frog statues can be found in city parks and on street corners. The city hosts an annual “logs to frogs” woodcarving competition that attracts international artists.”People are coming here just to see the frogs,” Palmer said.Ironically, actual frogs aren’t plentiful in northeast Oregon.”When we have our frog jumping contests we have to import frogs,” Palmer added.Branding, a common buzzword in the marketing industry, is based on the principle of uniqueness. “It creates in the mind of the prospect the perception that there is no product or service on the market quite like yours,” the Polaris, Inc. website states.Anna Maria Arizzi, account supervisor for Hill & Company, the firm proposing to develop a brand for the town of Frisco, said there’s one question a town should ask itself to determine the success of its image.”Have we broken through the murky flood of conformity?” she asked the town council.Some small towns have taken the project of branding even further than Milton-Freewater. Last fall, the town of Clark, in rural Texas, agreed to rename itself DISH in return for a decade’s worth of free satellite television.

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