County unveils new tourism brand: ‘Open Up’

Mark Mulligan / The HeraldA European visitor at the Future of Flight Museum in Mukilteo photographs a Boeing 787 lifting off from a runway at Paine Field.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald
A European visitor at the Future of Flight Museum in Mukilteo photographs a Boeing 787 lifting off from a runway at Paine Field.

By Amy Watkins, The Herald Business Journal

MUKILTEO — The Snohomish County Tourism Bureau has unveiled a new destination brand and tourism website to create more awareness of the area and increase the number of visitors.

The brand was officially introduced May 2 at the Future of Flight Aviation Center at Paine Field.

“In the competitive tourism world, location branding can make or break a destination,” said Wendy Becker, economic and cultural development officer for Snohomish County. The previous brand image did not match “what Snohomish County is actually able to provide in terms of tourism.”

The new brand and its tagline, “Open Up,” pairs with the attractions and activities the county offers visitors. Those attractions include major tourism assets that have been built since 2005, such as the Future of Flight Aviation Center, the Tulalip Resort Casino and Lynnwood Convention Center, Becker said.

The new destination brand is a strategy included in the 2010 Snohomish County Strategic Tourism Plan and is supported by the Snohomish County Office of Economic Development. The brand in 2011 was approved by the Snohomish County Council.

The Snohomish County Tourism Bureau partnered with Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies to create the brand. More than 15 pieces of research were conducted to understand Snohomish County from community, consumer and competitive perspectives, Becker said. The process included an audit of current market strategies, an analysis of Snohomish County’s presence in the marketplace, key stakeholder interviews and focus groups.

Common responses from those asked about opportunities in the county included hiking, trails in general, rivers that have fishing and boating, agritourism, shopping, arts and water and waterfront activities, Becker said. Frequently mentioned assets included aviation, outdoor recreation, gaming, shopping and an attractive geographic location north of Seattle.

“Snohomish County will be positioned as a complementary destination to Seattle, offering convenient amenities, recreation and spectacular views,” Becker said.

The new destination brand encourages visitors to open up to adventure, excitement and discovery in Snohomish County. The brand’s logo includes typography that is playful and reminiscent of the outdoors, said Amy Spain, executive director of the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau. The new website designed by Paramore Digital and printed materials such as business cards, stationery and the Summer 2013 Adventure Guide include a palette of colors reflective of natural elements in the county.

“The colors aren’t too bright and go along with the laid back vibe and feel of Snohomish County but offers a pop of color,” Spain said.

Ideas to establish brand equity could in the future include pole banners on city and county streets, signs along I-5 that help visitors recognize the county’s entry points and window decals, reusable grocery bags, “open” signs and magnets with the logo. The Snohomish County Tourism Bureau will also challenge its partners to create Open Up itineraries that represent ways to enjoy what Snohomish County has to offer.

“The more our clerk and hospitality industry businesses use the brand in their own product promotions the more successful it will be,” Spain said.

Deputy county executive Gary Haakenson said he was pleased to help introduce the new destination brand. Tourism represents the third largest revenue generator in the county, he said. The industry provides nearly 10,000 jobs and more than $220 million in payroll annually.

“Many tourism investments and attractions serve double duty,” Haakenson said. “They work to attract and serve visitors and they contribute to the quality of life for Snohomish County residents. The rebranding of Snohomish County tourism will only aid these efforts.”