“Fort Myers Beach needs a brand to identify it as someplace unique to everyone, from residents to seasonals to visitors,” said Sharon McCormick, Director of Business Attraction & Marketing for Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA), who with Project Manager Lorena Ledesma conducted the Public Branding Workshop for the Town of Fort Myers Beach at the Bay Oaks Recreational Center on Wednesday, January 15. Roughly 20 people attended the formal presentation, including Mayor Anita Cereceda and Council members Bruce Butcher, Rexann Hosafros and Joanne Shamp. Following that, approximately another dozen individuals trickled in over the next two hours to share their opinions.
Lorena conducted the PowerPoint presentation, explaining that RMA had prior interviews with Town Council members, Town senior staff and Volunteer Committee Chairs, then did extensive market research on Fort Myers Beach, including age and economic demographics. “These indicate that Fort Myers Beach attracts a slightly older clientele, but one with a high income level. Dollars spent here are strong in the Food & Beverage Industry but show some leakage on the Retail side. What is tremendous is that in the digital world, Fort Myers Beach is spectacular! People from all over report really positive experiences and are return visitors, and your rating as a safe community is excellent.” “Everyone loves you online,” agreed Sharon: “We do not find that all the time!”
“I’m On The STRAND!”
“We’ve already gathered some input,” added Sharon. “People describe Fort Myers Beach as funky, dynamic and accepting, with a great sense of personality and family-oriented. Almost everyone highlights the beach and Times Square as active areas, while describing it as feeling like home. You have great natural beauty and history, and are ahead of the curve in many ways, like your plastic straw ban. You have outstanding nightlife and terrific seasonal events, like the ‘Roar Offshore’ Powerboat Races. People hear about you through word of mouth, and you are extremely fortunate that for a small community, you have two weekly local newspapers that do a magnificent job of getting out the word about all your events… I pull up ‘The Island Sand Paper’ first thing every Friday. There are some negatives, however, such as confusion with the City of Fort Myers and the challenges of Red Tide. Now we want to hear from you!”
No one came better prepared than Sal Pedone, a 22-year Fort Myers Beach resident! “We are way different than any other island, but we need a generic nickname to create a new image. Google the word, “strand” and it says a body of land surrounded by water and that is a perfect description of our island, so play off that: S for Scenic; T for Tranquil; R for Relaxing; A for Adventure; N for Nature; and D for Diverse! For our logo, look at a map that includes San Carlos Island, but hold it from north to south and it resembles a seahorse! They live in seagrass that is crucial in our water quality and that would make for a lovely logo! We set up the word ‘STRAND’ and logo at all of our most scenic views and people will take photographs while telling their family and friends, ‘Look, I’m On The STRAND!”
Sweet Life On Sugar Sand!
Council member Shamp put thought into the brand as well: “I was on the beach and realized, “It’s a sweet life on our sugar sand island!’ We need a dynamic logo because when we reconfigure Estero Boulevard at the base of the Matanzas Pass Bridge, we want an entry feature there, as your first exposure to whatever this will ultimately be.”
Following the Workshop, Sharon described the next steps. “RMA will go over everything and give the Town an initial report, including slogan and logo examples, then we will make a presentation before Town Council currently scheduled for February 6. We will then work with Town Staff to formulate the final concept. There is a March 17 Town election that will replace at least two current Council members, so we made a commitment to the Town that we will be complete by then, and that remains our goal.”