Hermiston Seeks Brand New Brand

Hermiston Re-Branding
Hermiston City Manager Bryon Smith, left, outlines the process for coming up with a new brand and logo for the city during Monday's city council meeting.

An extensive survey of Hermiston residents was recently conducted to find out what people really think of the Hermiston brand, You Can GROW Here, as well as the paint job on the south side of the water tower.

The results? Almost nobody likes it. At least that’s what the survey of more than 1,000 by the firm Focal Point Marketing determined.

The numbers show that 92 percent say the watermelon ought to be part of any Hermiston logo. The watermelon was removed from the south side of the tower last year, but remains on the north side.

A total of 75 percent are unhappy with the color palette chosen for the logo.

A total of 76 percent of those surveyed did not like the distressed look of the logo.

A total of 67 percent of respondents did not like the tagline, You Can GROW Here, believing it had connotations of marijuana growing.

Hermiston Water Tower
What everybody’s been taking about.
The good news? No one had any complaints about the font.

As a result of the survey, the Hermiston City Council voted Monday night to start from scratch by reconvening the Hermiston Futures Task Force Subcommittee on Branding and Community Promotion and come up with a new design.

It’s essentially the same process that began in 2012, but this time the council promises to have the community more engaged in the process.

“Three years ago, we thought we were doing all this, but it turns out we just repainted the water tower and more than 70 percent of the people don’t like it,” Councilor John Kirwan said Monday night.

The new plan calls for adding 10 new people to the subcommittee, coming up with a new design for the logo that includes a watermelon, along with the existing logo with the addition of a watermelon but without the distressed look, and testing the new designs within the community via online surveys.

“You have to go with what the majority of the people want,” Kirwan said.

Hermiston City Manager Byron Smith said the process is important for the city, despite the mistakes made the first time around.

“It’s important to have an established brand that communicates who we are as a community,” Smith said. “This helps us in everything we do to improve the community and its economy.”

Councilor Rod Hardin agreed. He and several other councilors were in Nashville recently for a National League of Cities meeting. The topic of community branding was everywhere, he said.

“Most cities are going through this same process,” he said. “It’s important to put our best foot forward.”

Once the community settles on a design, a full effort to implement the logo on city letterhead, property and other promotional materials with be made in conjunction with the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce.

Hermiston resident Fred Ziari of IRZ Consulting suggested to the council that the new logo ought to include the Columbia River due to its importance to the region in terms of both the economy and recreational opportunities.

“We need to see ourselves as tied to the Columbia River and we should promote that,” he said.

The cost of the re-branding process is expected to exceed $60,000, Smith said. Half of that would go toward repainting the water tower with the rest going toward implementing the brand on city-related materials. Smith also suggested using Focal Point Marketing to assist the city in implementing the brand at a cost of about $18,000.

Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann said the process is necessary and this time will include the public’s input along the way.

“This process has been painful,” he said. “It’s our job to reinstitute the public’s trust in us.”