Port of Longview Exploring Potential Boost from New Brand

By Erik Olson, February 14, 2013, Longview Daily News

Port of Longview officials are looking for that “special something” that sets them apart from competing ports. And when they find it, they hope to use it to attract more business.

On Tuesday, port commissioners heard a half-hour presentation from Paul Vanderwal of Portland-based HMH Agency about developing a new brand for marketing purposes. The port is paying a $24,200 fee for this three-month first phase, which includes interviews with community members and shipping industry experts.

“We’re going to find out as much as we can about what people think about the port,” Vanderwal said, adding, “It is as much art as science.”

HMH has helped develop brands and marketing slogans for 30 companies and agencies throughout the Northwest, including big names such as Nike and Subway. For a recent campaign, the firm used dozens of interviews to boil down the slogan, “Nice. Remarkably nice,” for Oregon Community Credit Union in Springfield. The credit union then used the new brand to launch a new marketing campaign and expand its business into the Portland area, Vanderwal said.

“It’s what you are, deep down, that other people recognize,” he said.

Port commissioners said they were excited to develop a new brand because they feel the port has unique qualities to offer, since it is he first major cargo port visiting freighters encounter on the lower river.

“When you think about the Columbia River, you think about the first port. And that’s us,” Commissioner Bob Bagaason said.

The branding effort is the port’s latest move to boost its image and marketing. In January, commissioners signed Pennsylvania-based consultant Martin Associates to a contract worth up to $100,000 to conduct an economic impact analysis of the port.

Over the past two years, the port has spent an additional roughly $300,000 to develop a 20-year strategic plan, which includes plans to redevelop and market vacant and unused property.

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