With the support of town officials and the results from hundreds of surveys, marketing consultants have narrowed their focus for Port Royal's brand.
The marketing brand and subsequent advertising campaign designed to attract visitors will center on a guiding statement highlighting Port Royal's "unique charm":
"Nestled deep within a sheltered natural harbor, Port Royal, S.C., is a coastal town filled with people from every walk of life. Charming storefronts, eclectic shops and funky festivals pull residents and visitors together under towering live oaks."
With that information in hand and feedback from two dozen people at an informational meeting Thursday, consultants from marketing firm Rawle Murdy of Charleston will craft the final brand and marketing proposal in about four weeks, company president Bruce Murdy said. Town Council and officials will then determine how to use the brand, which marketing steps to take and how much funding is available to implement the plan.
Two other position statements were considered, but received less support in the 259 survey responses from residents, community leaders, business owners and visitors the consultants received online and in person.
The "unique charm" statement was favored by 49 percent of responders.
In second place, at 34 percent, was a statement focusing on the town's business and tourism:
"With its first settlement dating to 1562, Port Royal, S.C., has long been a travel and trade destination. Today, our waterfront and shopping district keeps residents and guests entertained year-round. Opportunities for unique, small businesses continue to lead Port Royal into the future."
A statement focusing on the town's "natural beauty" came in third, at 17 percent:
"A storied history along the sandy banks of Battery Creek, Port Royal, S.C., is a classic coastal town. People have raised their families for generations to the ebb and flow of Port Royal Sound."
The town approved a $40,000 contract in December with Rawle Murdy to develop a brand and marketing strategy to draw tourists, businesses and residents. The firm says it's using information from three public forums, social media data, a marketing audit, comparisons with other communities, and other sources to develop a proposal.
A proposal was due by April 9 to Town Council, but Murdy said the surveys took more time than expected.
Town manager Van Willis said the delay is not a problem because the town is still working on next fiscal year's budget, which takes effect July 1. He said by the time the proposal is presented, "We will have a better idea of what I have available in the budget" to fund the strategy.
Town Councilman Tom Klein said he'd rather the process take longer if it means a better result.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.