Group looks to link towns on peninsula

Project aims to find unique brand

Posted: Sunday, July 02, 2006

Campbell’s soup. Carhartt bib overalls. Jeep Wrangler.

Brands call attention to products on grocery shelves; they lure folks to certain car lots when shopping for a new vehicle. In many areas, they are the sole reason a driver pulls into one gas station rather than another.

That’s the impact the Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing Council hopes to achieve through a branding project for the Kenai Peninsula.

“Your brand is what they say about you when you’re not around,” said Shanon Hamrick, executive director of marketing group, during a presentation to the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday.

A brand would make the peninsula stand out in the crowded tourism marketplace.

Working with a Nashville consulting company called North Star Destination Strategies, the marketing council will gather information from visitors to the peninsula on their spending habits to determine whether they own their own homes, travel by air, shop at Nordstrom, buy business suits or make travel arrangements or buy flowers online.

Hamrick said the research would be broken out for individual cities, including Kenai, Homer, Soldotna and Seward, in addition to being provided for the peninsula as a whole.

Using a computer projector, Hamrick showed the council one slide depicting the identifying logos of no fewer than 10 communities on the Kenai Peninsula, each with a distinctively different focus.

The logo for Cooper Landing showed snow-covered mountains and a snow skier; Soldotna showed a winding river; Moose Pass showed a moose walking; Kenai showed Fort Kenay.

“We’re all marketing ourselves separately,” Hamrick said.

“We’re not sending people to other communities (on the peninsula).

“Instead of sending people to Homer, Seward is sending them to Denali,” she said.

Hamrick asked Soldotna officials to buy into the branding program at the rate of $2,500 a year for two years.

She said the city’s investment would avail them to a $150,000 economic development and marketing plan they could not do on their own.

The research, which she said would tell how customers are making their buying decisions, will allow the peninsula to become a more effective marketer of itself.

Soldotna City Manager Tom Boedeker said the branding program would enable the city “to gather a lot of information for $5,000 you would not get any other way.”

The council voted unanimously to participate in the program as a partner with the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce.

Hamrick said branding will allow the area to “grow the current markets and in essence make the ‘pie’ bigger for all business sectors in the Kenai Peninsula.”

She said it would unify the peninsula under a common theme “while allowing individual communities to continue to market at the community level.”

Once the brand is established, defining what the peninsula is known for, the area would be marketed separately from Southcentral Alaska — as it currently is under the Alaska Travel Industry Association.

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