Categories: Visioning, Branding & Marketing Projects

The 7-mile barrier island known as the Town of Fort Myers Beach consists of 6,989 residents but grows ten times during Florida’s tourism “season”. Visitors often confused the destination with many of its neighboring cities. The Town’s laid back, be-yourself atmosphere was under-promoted and under-appreciated, and the Town’s communication channels lacked uniformity. RMA was hired to develop a fresh, comprehensive brand and campaign to position the Town’s unique character and differentiate it from its neighbors, particularly the City of Fort Myers. RMA prepared a situation analysis and collected the Townspeople’s impressions through one-on-one and public input meetings which laid the foundation for bridging the Town’s long-term objectives with immediately applicable tasks. The Brand and Marketing Plan were unanimously adopted by the Town Council. The Town hired its first full-time public information and communications professional and RMA delivered graphic design and social media strategy services to assist the Town and its new employee for the first 6 months of the brand launch. The Town continues to follow the Plan and is securing their identity among the region and beyond.

Downtown North Miami lacked a unified image and was suffering from the absence of a clearly defined identity, brand and message. A plan was needed to reposition the district. The CRA plan (amended two years earlier by RMA), identified several initiatives that required comprehensive marketing strategies to achieve the desired goals. RMA was engaged to create and implement a strategic marketing plan that focused on the process of branding and positioning the downtown based on its market potential, existing downtown assets, and stakeholder input. The goals, in line with the CRA plan goals, were to attract new target businesses, developers and investors, engage the current customer base and attract new visitors by promoting incentive and security programs, launching advertising, public relations and digital media campaigns and developing special events that support the downtown brand, grow business and improve overall quality of place. A downtown logo and campaign (To NoMi is to Love Me) were adopted that illustrated the underlying themes of a rich, diverse, cultural experience and vision for the Downtown. A Brand Standards Manual was adopted to inspire and outline the brand and define the visual style and primary message. The Plan won the Florida Redevelopment Association’s 2017 Roy F. Kenzie award for Planning Studies and continues to guide the CRA’s marketing and communications strategies.

The City of Oakland Park had spent over $30 million upgrading the infrastructure in and around the downtown core, however, that alone was not enough to attract private developers to invest in the city as there wasn’t a clearly defined downtown city center, demographics were very low, the city had a very limited budget, and there was no clear vision for the Downtown. RMA initially developed a five-year strategic plan for the City, with a recommendation to focus on the Downtown area first. The RMA team quickly identified that the City of Oakland Park had an existing cluster of culinary related businesses including caterers, upscale kitchen and appliance stores, cabinet makers, culinary kitchens, and the only shared commercial kitchen in Broward County at the time. With these findings, RMA created a brand, the “Downtown Oakland Park Culinary Arts District”, and began implementing the strategic, results-driven plan.
Promoting the culinary concept, RMA attracted the first craft brewery in Broward County, Funky Buddha Brewery, to a large vacant warehouse space located in the downtown area for production and a tasting room. The existing zoning did not allow for brewing, so RMA assisted the city in creating a zoning category to support the new South Florida trend of brewery concepts. A full Local Activity Center (LAC) was then codified to allow for flexible zoning on all properties in the downtown. Using the new-found success of the culinary brand and the first anchor tenant of Funky Buddha Brewery, RMA set out to realign the focus of the entire “downtown” by creating visual elements to tie the area together, including banner signage, street improvements and connection points for pedestrians, and increased special events to bring more visitors.
Throughout the first two years of the Culinary Arts District being established, over 8 properties valued at nearly $15 million had changed hands within the half-mile Downtown Local Activity Center (LAC). The entire area now has seen almost 50% of the buildings undergo renovations or complete redevelopment. The Funky Buddha Brewery, the largest craft brewery in South Florida, selected the emerging Culinary Arts District as their home and opened phase one of their two-phase plan in 18,000 SF of warehouse space at Oakland Station. They later doubled in size with the phase two addition of 19,000 SF for an on-site bottling operation and restaurant concept. Today, they have expanded to almost 180,000 square feet and are a major employer in the district. Another local business, the well-known, successful Allied Kitchen & Bath opened a second location in 20,000 square feet in the heart of the downtown, with ground floor space for  three restaurants.