Great brands start with the question why. Why does this brand exist? Great brands are purposeful and authentic. They are responsive and transparent. Great brands are meant to be used as a communication tool, evoking some sort of memory or feeling in people. This is why the Navarre community loved its old beach sign so much. To this community, that old beach sign meant something.
The citizens in central and north county elected a shiny new county commissioner for our district. Great smile, good teeth, nice suits. He is a carpetbagger from Baghdad who moved to a rented house in Navarre after winning the at large district 4 seat. He is a self-proclaimed expert on many things including marketing and tourism. He got himself appointed Chairman of the Tourist Development Council. He consistently behaves combatively toward his fellow commissioners. He uses cheap political theater in a vain attempt to demonstrate he is the one guy fighting for Navarre. As Chairman of the TDC, he rallied his fellow commissioners to support a shiny new branding campaign and persuaded them to hire a big out of town marketing company to do the work. This guy is one heck of a salesman. There are incredibly talented marketing firms with a great deal of experience right here in our market. So, much for keeping it local!
The new million-dollar marketing campaign went into full swing. New signs were put up all over the county. They are attractive. The website launched with light content and beautiful photography. The branding features a milk toast but pleasant message, “Get Relaxing.” Fortunately for the branding campaign, tourism numbers continue to experience unprecedented growth in Florida. The new brand was heralded a great success, but the truth is our tourism numbers grew organically. The numbers even show that a very small percentage of visitors found us on T.V., radio or even social media.
The new “Get Relaxing” sign for Navarre Beach was ordered, but it was damaged days before the opening of tourism season. The sign company made a temporary sign which was very similar in size and color to the permanent sign we see at the foot of the bridge today. The sign company recognized the importance of having signage up in time for Memorial Day Weekend.
The public raged. They did not want their old sign removed, and they took to social media. The district 4 county commissioner drove to the foot of the bridge in the middle of the night and pulled the temporary sign down leaving the beach with no signage. He broke the law and lauded himself a hero on Facebook for doing the will of the people. If any other individual committed a crime like this, they would be arrested. There are laws, and they apply to everyone. There are plenty of laws that don’t reflect the will of the people, but the people still have to follow them.
Now, our business community is being asked to pay $500 annually for the right to use the “Get Relaxing” brand. We need our community to get behind this brand if it is going to be successful. It makes no sense to me to charge our businesses for a brand tourism dollars paid for in the first place. It is impossible to slap small-business owners in the face and expect them to support a brand they don’t like. This licensing fee is nothing more than an additional tax to small business. If you are trying to create brand ambassadors, this policy is very short sighted. The brand does not differentiate our community from others. The brand does not make people feel…anything. The brand is not particularly authentic. As for transparency, most people in Navarre feel this new brand was shoved down their throats by employees who get government paychecks. Government has forgotten their real purpose. Government employees are here to create an environment where businesses can be more successful. Use taxes that hurt small businesses should never be tolerated. The Tourist Development Council did not support the use tax being imposed on small businesses. The new chairman of the TDC, Commissioner Parker, voted against the use tax.
Be sure to thank Sam Parker for standing up for small businesses and supporting our Tourist Development Council.