What makes Basalt different from Aspen or Glenwood Springs? Or, more regionally, what makes Basalt different from Salida, Buena Vista, Fruita or Moab?
Currently, the Basalt Area Chamber of Commerce is answering these questions and more in order to develop a new brand or communication method for Basalt that distinguishes it from competitors and will be used in future marketing, public relations and economic development programs.
The Chamber is currently in a two-month process with Development Counsellors International (DCI), a New York-based marketing firm, with an office in Denver, that specializes in economic development and travel marketing.
DCI is managing this Blueprint 2.0 brand-building process for the State of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).
“OEDIT offers different programs, particularly focusing on rural communities, to help local economies,” says Kris Mattera, executive director of the Basalt Chamber since July 2017. “Rural communities apply for the technical assistance grants, then a select few are picked.”
Basalt was chosen this spring, and the Chamber has just completed the first stage of Blueprint 2.0. A 15-question survey was sent to the general Basalt public, and the Chamber received 150 responses. DCI compiled the survey results and will announce their initial feedback to Mattera on Friday, April 12. Additional questionnaires were sent to Basalt’s town manager, Ryan Mahoney, members of the town council and the Basalt Chamber board of directors.
The survey asks questions such as: “What cities, regions, or states would you cite as a ‘role models’ that Basalt may want to emulate or could learn lessons from?” And: “Five years from now, what do you want Basalt to be known for?”
Developing marketing communications is Mattera’s background, having worked in Boston at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“There are different parts of Basalt and really diverse separate nodes of people that you want to draw together in a singular diverse message,” says Mattera. “I find it fascinating that in Basalt you could be at a restaurant or bar, or waiting in line at the post office talking to the world’s foremost authority on (most anything), and they are completely humble about it. They find a way to serve this community with that skill set without being flashy about it.”
Rachel Deloffre is an account director with DCI in Denver and is leading the Blueprint 2.0 project for OEDIT.
“The value of determining your community brand and strategizing how you are going to market that brand to decision makers, business leaders, potential residents and visitors is significant,” Deloffre says. “The increased exposure as a result of a branding campaign oftentimes increases a community’s opportunity to land new business investment, new residents and visitors — all of which generate new revenue for that community.”
Currently, Basalt is rare among Colorado mountain towns in that it doesn’t have a singular brand or logo mark. The town government uses one logo, while the Chamber uses another. The tagline, “Basalt: Confluence of rivers, recreation and culture” was developed by local graphic artist Art Burrows and graces signs bordering Basalt.
So, what does Basalt have that sets it apart from other communities?
“I think it’s the sum of the whole when looking at our different parts, and how we piece together,” Mattera says. “We’re the only place that is a confluence of two gold-medal waters definitely in the United States, most likely North America. We have fishermen, ranchers, the Roaring Fork Club, families, a Latino community and we all enjoy the outside and doing fun things.”
The Chamber’s marketing focus extends beyond Basalt’s town limits.
“We are the Basalt Area Chamber of Commerce,” Mattera emphasizes. “We do not see town limits. Our membership — currently 432 Chamber members — extends from Aspen all the way to Rifle and Parachute. We have a broad spectrum of whom we represent. I count El Jebel, I look at the entire Mid-Valley area, and I look up the Frying Pan at Ruedi.”
The Town of Basalt is behind this new effort to create new messaging and communication opportunities.
“We support this process and are excited about the opportunity to discuss updating the branding of our town,” Mahoney says. “This has been a community-driven process and the chamber has been doing a great job of getting feedback.”
After receiving feedback on the survey, Mattera and DCI will work together to review existing marketing research, suggest possible branding possibilities, describe how the brand represents what Basalt is, create new tagline and logo options and present all of this new research to the Basalt community sometime in May or June, according to Mattera.
“We have an opportunity to re-evaluate where we are, and where we want to go,” notes Mattera. “We have a lot of things waiting in the wings, and a new website that will be launched soon based on when the new branding is ready.”
The Chamber currently receives approximately $55,000-$60,000 per year from Basalt’s voter-approved lodging tax, and receives no direct funds from the Basalt town government. But, according to Mattera, there are some additional funds that could be used to increase Basalt’s visibility and communications messaging.
“I have talked with Ryan Mahoney about potentially using some of that funding, plus the lodging tax, to do almost a match program as we start to integrate the branding across town. We could partner on those kinds of things," says Mattera.
A public presentation by DCI on new branding, logos, taglines and other new communications messaging is planned for later this spring, but has not been scheduled yet.