Resort Defends Branding
I would like to respond to a letter printed in your paper on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, titled “Thoughts on Branding.” While I always welcome open dialog and appreciate constructive criticism by our residents and visitors, I thought the letter lacked several important details that went into the development of the new brand.
First and foremost, as BVK and the Ocean City Tourism Department outlined during the Brand Reveal on Oct. 27, the brand is much more than just the logo, which seemed to be the focus on the letter by Mr. Jankovic. Instead, the new brand provides an identity for who Ocean City is as a destination and a direction for where we want to go with our marketing in the future.
To identify and develop a clear brand identity for Ocean City, the Ocean City Tourism Department completed an in-depth discovery process that began in July 2021. At that time, they sent out more than 100,000 surveys, collecting information from residents, visitors, business owners, meeting planners, and non-visitors. They collected 5,200 survey results, conducted several stakeholder focus groups, and interviewed hundreds of people to identify and develop a clear brand positioning and brand personality.
This process, which took approximately 15 months and an enormous amount of hard work from our partners at BVK and our internal team, was used to develop a Value-Based Positioning model for Ocean City. The core value of “Carefree” was identified as the essence of the Brand. From there, BVK and OC partnered to identify and develop a clear brand identity that is true to the destination’s history and its aspirational future.
We also strategically analyzed Ocean City’s competitors to examine the brand position of competing brands like Virginia Beach, New Jersey Beaches, and Myrtle Beach, The Outer Banks, Delaware beaches, and The Wildwoods.
What the team uncovered through this research, combined with the perception study results, was the opportunity to take Ocean City’s core values and lean into the sense of place our visitors have while in Ocean City. We found that Ocean City’s was not simply a destination for people to visit, but it was a feeling that people were seeking when choosing a place to vacation. In other words, our visitors described Ocean City’s personality as “energetic” and “approachable,” with a foundation built on tradition that is also evolving with modern appeals.
These pages of research findings helped us create a robust brand framework that led to Ocean City’s new Brand platform: “Somewhere to Smile About.”
We believe our new brand identity leverages historical strengths, distinctive equities, and a culturally relevant vibe to position OC for success with growing our target audiences. Our extensive research shows that Ocean City is a “happy place” for both our residents and our visitors. And what is the universal symbol of happiness? A smile.
A smile is a universal sign of joy. It transcends language, and it’s positively contagious.
The simplicity of our smile logo is exactly what we want to stand out in a crowded market space. Much like the Nike Swoosh, Apple’s apple or McDonald’s Golden Arches, our OC Smile will be a recognizable symbol that reminds our customers of the happy feeling they have when visiting Ocean City.
What the collective teams have built with the new Ocean City brand positioning, platform and identity is incredibly powerful and my office and I are confident it will resonate with visitors for years to come. These teams have poured their heart and souls into paving the way for the future of Ocean City and I can confidently say I stand fully behind the team and the decisions they’ve made.
While Mr. Jankovic and others may disagree, the smile logo celebrates our family-friendly destination and the feeling our visitors have when they are here. A sense of weight lifted. Lighthearted and bright. Warm and approachable. Outgoing. Effortless. Not too serious. We believe our logo is playful, easygoing and gives our visitors something (and somewhere) to smile about.
Mayor Rick Meehan
Grateful For Support
On behalf of the Restore The Light Committee at Stevenson United Methodist Church, I would like to thank everyone in our community who has supported our stained-glass window restoration campaign. We kicked off our fund-raising efforts on June 25 with the goal of raising the $211,000 needed within two years. We were blown away by the response from individuals and businesses in our community who donated to our cause.
I am happy to announce that we have exceeded our campaign goal and have scheduled the repair and restoration project to begin in May 2023. This project will take over one year to complete. The committee will continue accepting donations for the stained-glass windows. Unforeseen extra repairs will likely pop up. Any residual funds will remain in the window fund for future work on our 110-year-old windows.
A special thank you goes out to the Humphreys Foundation, Inc., the Thomas G. Hanley Trust, the E. Bowen and Frances Hyde Quillin Foundation, Inc. and the L. Franklin and Gertrude H. Purnell Foundation Inc. The significant grants and gifts from these groups took us to the finish line.
God is good and he has blessed the Restore The Light campaign. His light has shown brilliantly through each donation. We are truly humbled and sincerely grateful. Blessings to all.
Beth Bunting Sise
(The writer is the chair of the Restore The Light Committee.)
Rural Health Day Thoughts
As we celebrate National Rural Health Day this year, we are reminded that a strong community is rooted in its people. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to serving those who live in the rural areas of this country, like the small towns and communities right here on the Eastern Shore. At the United States Department of Agriculture, we are hard at work offering the resources to the rural and agricultural communities that feed and fuel our nation and provide the everyday essentials upon which America depends.
As I’ve traveled across Delaware and Maryland, I’ve seen firsthand the unique challenges people in rural communities and remote parts of the state have in accessing the health resources they need and deserve.
At USDA Rural Development, we are committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-quality and reliable health care services like urgent care, primary care, and dental care. That’s why we’ve been proud champions of programs like the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants, which was created by President Biden’s historic legislative package, the American Rescue Plan Act.
In the last year, this program has helped rural health care organizations across the state purchase supplies, deliver food assistance, renovate health care facilities and provide people with reliable medical testing and treatment.
In Pocomoke City, Maryland, Emergency Medical Services used a $306,000 Emergency Rural Health Care Grant to replace an aging ambulance that had over 200,000 miles on it. The new ambulance was delivered with state-of-the-art technologies that meet safety standards developed following the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping crew and patients safer.
Funding has also been provided to Bayhealth, Beebe, and TidalHealth medical programs especially for needed medical equipment.
Health is about much more than medical care. Access to modern, reliable water and wastewater infrastructure is a critical necessity for the health and well-being of every American.
In Delaware and Maryland, we continue to work hand-in-hand with our partners and local community leaders to promote a healthy community and environment through our Water and Environmental Programs.
These programs help rural communities obtain the technical assistance and capital financing necessary to develop clean and reliable drinking water and waste disposal systems. Safe drinking water and sanitary waste disposal systems are vital not only to public health, but also to the economic vitality of rural America
Through these programs, we make sure people, children and families across the state have clean water and safe sewer systems that prevent pollution and runoff.
In Millsboro, Delaware, a new water treatment facility is being constructed with the help of a Rural Development Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant for $27,795,000. This will enable Millsboro to consistently meet effluent permit limitations. The new facility will help ensure the health and safety of the local wastewater service for the 3,805 rural residents served by the town.
USDA Rural Development is a partner who invests in keeping rural people healthy. On National Rural Health Day, Thursday, Nov. 17, we celebrated the power of rural.
You can learn more about our programs by visiting our website, rd.usda.gov, or by calling 302-857-3580.
(The writer is the USDA Rural Development State Director for Delaware and Maryland.)