Some vacation destinations tout “more,” but Bayfield, Wis., entices visitors with “less.” Located in Wisconsin at the threshold of the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, Bayfield has found the town’s strength is that it does offer less crowds, less lines, less traffic and less tourist hype and that it’s a uniquely relaxing place to visit. After a two-year re-branding effort, the scenic community is setting itself apart from other destinations with this promise — Bayfield and the Apostle Islands …where the water meets the soul.
“Where the Water Meets the Soul” is how the scenic community of Bayfield and the Apostle Islands seeks to re-introduce itself to potential visitors throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Chicago and beyond as part of a comprehensive re-branding effort. The new branding is the culmination of a two-year process to define and differentiate Bayfield in the minds of potential visitors, in an effort to boost its growing tourism business.
Conducted by Platypus Advertising Design, in Milwaukee, for the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau (CCVB), the branding process led to the discovery that the town’s strength is that it offers less – less crowds, less lines, less traffic and less tourist hype, and that its uniquely relaxing environment serves as a kind of a “day spa for the soul.”
“We have unspoiled beauty,” says Larry McDonald, Mayor of Bayfield. “We have the lake, the Apostle Islands and wilderness. For the market we are going after, it’s what our visitors want and once they arrive they find endless activities and events to enjoy”.
Located in the northernmost part of Wisconsin at the threshold of the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, Bayfield’s biggest industry is tourism. In the research conducted, which included interviews with visitors in Bayfield, surveys with consumers who had had visited Bayfield’s website, and in-depth interviews with the members of Bayfield community, the findings revealed that empty nesters, ages 50 or older, represented the majority of visitors to Bayfield. Above all else, these visitors are drawn to Bayfield to escape the stresses of their daily lives and to reconnect with nature.
While the findings were not altogether surprising to Bayfield CCVB Executive Director Cari Obst, the branding process did help reaffirm to everyone what they believed about their community.
“There’s a lot to be learned by the branding process,” says Obst. “We wanted everyone to feel they had input in the process, so we included business owners from every industry, city officials and our marketing team. We built consensus before moving on to the next step, and in the end we had a much bigger picture of who we are and why visitors are drawn to Bayfield as a tourist destination.”
The Bayfield Experience.
Much of Bayfield’s uniquely relaxing environment can be attributed to Lake Superior, which anchors all activities and sightseeing in the area. Bayfield’s close relationship with the lake and its proximity the Apostle Islands distinguish the area from other destinations in Wisconsin. Through the research process, Bayfield learned that its visitors seek to enjoy the lake passively more than actively. Its allure is in the lake’s ability to soothe and induce a relaxed state of mind.
“In the past, we have promoted the wealth of activities offered by Bayfield. We still do, however we’ve learned our visitors see those activities as more of a way to further unwind,” Obst commented.
Bayfield further discovered that while some visitors come to retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, others see Bayfield as a gateway to personal adventures, such as hiking, boating or skiing. And still others come to Bayfield just to experience the unique natural beauty that surrounds Bayfield, including the bluffs that overlook Lake Superior, the endless orchards and berry fields, the famous sea caves and Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Island’s Archipelago.
The new logo and slogan, BAYFIELD & the Apostle Islands…where the water meets the soul, will be used in all of Bayfield’s future marketing efforts to visually express the Bayfield experience, and is currently being used on the cover of the http://www.bayfield.org/visitor/visitorguide.asp [2008 Bayfield Visitor’s Guide. The response from business owners like Nancy Sandstrom, owner of the Pinehurst Inn in Bayfield, is overwhelmingly positive.
“It speaks to my heart,” says Sandstrom. “It connects advertising with the environment and personal rejuvenation.”
“We think the branding is a great interpretation of what visitors perceive about Bayfield and what they need when they come here,” added Jerry Phillips, owner of the Old Rittenhouse Inn.