Fort Walton Beach looks to create 'cohesive city brand'

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH — Officials are asking for public input on their “branding initiative” to create an identity and marketing platform for the city.

The Fort Walton Beach City Council adopted an updated Community Redevelopment Agency plan and master plans for the downtown area and the Commerce & Technology Park in May 2019.

And last November, the council agreed to pay $75,000 to the firm called "no luggage Brand Strategies" of Charlotte, North Carolina, to help create a citywide brand that can be customized to the city’s various districts.

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Fort Walton Beach City Hall

“We are experiencing a lot of momentum thanks to our elected leaders, businesses and residents,” Fort Walton Beach City Manager Michael Beedie said. “A cohesive city brand has been discussed for years and is necessary to create a baseline for marketing, messaging, visual consistency and revitalization. A community-vetted and approved brand will give us direction and the tools to market ourselves to new businesses and residents, promote economic growth and inspire pride in our community.”

In recent years, no luggage Brand Strategies worked on a rebranding strategy for the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council.

Beedie earlier noted that as part of that effort, the TDC moved away from the “Emerald Coast” brand to the “Destin-Fort Walton Beach” brand. County Tourist Development Department Director Jennifer Adams has said that while many non-locals know where Destin is, many of them have never even heard of the Emerald Coast.

In recent years, the city of Fort Walton Beach sometimes has been referred to as the “Treasure of the Emerald Coast.”

“One of the biggest changes we expect to see (in the ongoing branding initiative) is how we describe and talk about our community,” Beedie said Thursday. “We want to portray the city as our residents see it. The project isn’t for city government. It’s for everyone who lives, works and visits here. Creative elements are also part of the project and can include photography, logos, colors, tag lines, etc.”

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As part of the branding initiative, the city invites residents, business owners and key stakeholders to attend one or both of the upcoming city-hosted “neighborhood roundtable” sessions to share their thoughts on what makes Fort Walton Beach special and what it’s like to live and work in the city.

The first session is scheduled from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, April 28, on the veranda at the Fort Walton Beach Golf Club at 1955 Lewis Turner Blvd.

The second session is set for 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, April 29, inside The Place on Beal at 100 Beal Parkway.

To reserve a spot at one or both of the sessions, visit www.fwb.org/branding2021.

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“We will hold a virtual meeting in early May for anyone who missed the April meetings or would prefer not to gather in a group,” Beedie said. “We will announce the day and time for the virtual meeting soon. We expect to see results and a rollout (of the overall branding initiative) sometime in June. A formal presentation will be given to the City Council, as well as a follow-up with participants and the community.”