By Marissa Luck, April 21, 2015, The Daily News
The Port of Longview is finishing a two-year, $95,000 effort to rebrand itself as “Washington’s Working Port.” The new brand already has won awards and will pay off in better exposure and business for the port, officials say.
The project was more than just a logo redesign: It was an effort to create a fresh image with a new slogan, print and web advertisements, a website, videos, stationery and other means of marketing.
“We are competing in a global marketplace, vying for cargo and for business,” said Ashley Helenberg, port director of external affairs. “This is a small investment to generate business revenue for our community.”
The port says that its earlier brand had inconsistent messaging and didn’t set it apart from other ports. The port has had the same logo since at least the late 1970s. Its previous slogan — “Get connected” — emphasized the port’s proximity to river, railroads and roads. But that’s a trait shared by many other ports on the Columbia River and didn’t make Longview unique, Helenberg said.
“The problem was that we were in a sea of competing ports. We didn’t have a distinct identity or competitive position that sets us above other ports,” Helenberg said.
Instead of its old “corporate blue and green” look, the port how hopes to emphasize its blue-collar roots with the tagline “Washington’s Working Port.” Its brochures, business cards and advertisements feature gritty images of longshoremen moving cargo and close-ups of logs and steel.
Helenberg said the port the branding project will “demonstrate to current and prospective clients that … we apply a hands-on approach to ensure that their cargo is moved efficiently and safely.”
Short promotional videos were produced using footage shot by longshoremen equipped with GoPro cameras as they worked in cranes and log loaders, plus cellphone videos shot by port staff. The footage was then edited and set to music by a Tacoma-based marketing company, Rusty George Creative.
Helenberg learned last week that the branding project had won a bronze award for best port communications from the International Association of Ports and Harbors. Longview had gone up against ports in Sweden, Ghana, France, Spain and Malaysia. Rusty George Creative also won a silver Addy award for its Port of Longview logo design from American Advertising Federation Awards in Seattle this year.
The branding project actually started, though, with a separate marketing company, HMHAgency, which conducted a $25,000 market analysis in 2013. The Portland-based agency conducted more than 30 interviews of customers, tenants, community partners and staff, as well as an in-depth analysis of the port’s top competitors.
The port paid an additional $20,000 to HMHAgency to create a logo, but HMH’s designs were rejected because they “didn’t represent Longview”, Helenberg said. The port then opted to hire a different company to complete the branding project.
After soliciting quotes from 10 firms, the port awarded a $50,000 logo/branding contract to Rusty George Creative for a branding suite that included developing messaging, a new logo, graphics for stationary, advertisements, newsletters, signs, websites and stationary.
A $50,000 price tag appears to be the “going rate” for a branding project of that scope, said Port of Tacoma spokeswoman Tara Mattina. The Port of Tacoma paid that rate for a brand refresh two years ago, in addition to $25,000 for the actual implementation of the brand, Mattina said.
The Port of Seattle and Tacoma are also splitting a $50,000 fee for a new branding strategy for their Seaport Alliance. The alliance will create a separate entity to co-manage marine cargo operations, and there will be a third brand to go along with that alliance, Mattina said.
Port of Kalama is also refreshing its look with a new website and updated logo, which it hopes to launch in May. Kalama’s project is smaller in scope than Longview’s though, and did not include a video or marketing analysis, among other products.The $3,600 for a staff branding workshop, a logo redesign and an updated color palette, said port spokeswoman Liz Newman. The website redesign was a separate $19,500 project that is still under development, Newman added.
Like the Port of Longview, each port hopes to position itself in a unique way.