Port Royal residents, consultants work to put brand on town's special qualities

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 27, 2014 


John Ellerbe looks at photos during the first of three charrettes at the town of Port Royal's Town Hall the evening of Jan. 27, 2014.

ERIN MOODY — Erin Moody Buy Photo

The residents of Port Royal who attended Monday's brainstorming meeting about branding the town made one thing clear: They think they have a special little community.

What was harder to put a finger on was what, exactly, makes it so special.

Some said it was the water, boating opportunities and exquisite vistas. Others said it could be a good place for small businesses. Still others pointed to the 100-plus-year-old Port Royal Elementary School's strong history of education.

Almost all commented on the quaint but quirky lifestyle residents lead, where it's not unusual to drive a golf cart to see friends, or to see a tandem bicycle pedaled down the road.

The ideas came from across the board Monday, when a group of residents sat down with consultants to help sort out what could make a compelling brand and marketing campaign to draw visitors, businesses and new residents.

"We've got the beach, we've got the boat landing, we've got the restaurants, we've got the reason for people to come this way instead of that way," Bud Fidrych said, comparing the town to the city of Beaufort.

Monday was the first of three opportunities to weigh in with consultants from Rawle Murdy Associates on how the town of Port Royal should be branded and marketed.

"Let's identify and try to quantify what it is about Port Royal that you love so much," Bruce Murdy said.

The meetings include a number of exercises. The first is ongoing: Participants can write whatever words they associate with Port Royal on a large sheet of paper.

Another involves choosing photos taken around town and explaining why those images reflect the community. Those images can include houses, the Port of Port Royal, shrimp boats and dock, water and food.

A "what if" exercise had residents pretend they were marketing the town to someone, asking what message they would give and the best medium for delivering it.

An association exercise had participants compare Port Royal to a famous person or character. Responses ranged from Samuel Clemens -- "one of the most insightful human beings who ever lived, and he did not suffer fools," Bob Bender said -- to the SpongeBob SquarePants show, which Dusty Vickers likened to his neighbors and local restaurants.

Judy Alling said Port Royal is like the TV show "Modern Family" and its diverse cast.

"They're all a little bent, and I think Port Royal and its residents are just a little bent," she said. "And I say that with a great deal of pride."

The consultants will combine the input from the three meetings with statistics, social media chatter about the town and other information for a final proposal, which is due to Town Council by April 9.

The next charrette is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Town Hall, 700 Paris Ave., but could be postponed because of weather. Town manager Van Willis said that decision will be announced Tuesday.

Another session is planned for Feb. 3, at the same time and place.

Those interested in attending are asked to pick a date and notify town staff by calling 843-986-2211.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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