Coca Cola doesn't change its logo and Michelin tires still has its "tire man," said Sandestin resident and businessman Jon Vice, who like many other South Walton residents, are wondering why the Beaches of South Walton's iconic red and white beach umbrella logo was ever done away with.
The umbrellas were eliminated from the TDC logo a few years ago under the Tourist Development Council's former administration, in an attempt to give the logo a fresh and updated new look.
The TDC's current executive director, Jim Bagby, says the umbrellas are being looked at as a possibility to bring back again to represent our beautiful beaches.
The announcement leaves some scratching their heads in wonderment, yet delighted.
"I like the three umbrella logo and would certainly embrace it being used again," said Vice.
The iconic and easily recognizable three red and white beach umbrellas were South Walton's logo for more than 20 years, adopted after the TDC was established and under Malcolm Patterson's tenure as the TDC's first executive director.
"It never made any sense to do away with it to begin with," said Patterson. "Having a visual as part of your logo is sensory reinforcement and easier to remember. Any time you have something you want remembered you do so by using more than one sensory perception. When they removed the umbrellas they removed one of multiple sensory receptors. That logo was developed on my tenure. But just before I retired we spent big bucks on a marketing study and among the recommendations were to keep the logo as it was because it already had brand identity, and build on what already existed (When they were done away with).”
“My question was always, where was the council in this decision and why would they permit the change when a very competent ad agency had just advised to continue its use and build on the brand identity already established?” he added. “During my tenure, such decisions had to be filtered through the Council and they never would have endorsed such a change. If it were reestablished, I think it would have instant recall in many of the target areas."
Kriss Titus succeeded Patterson as TDC executive director.
"I am thrilled the TDC is considering bringing back the iconic Beaches of South Walton logo with the three red umbrellas," said Titus. "This logo was created when the TDC was first put in place in 1988. When I came on board at TDC in 1999 it was our mission not to change the logo but to give it an updated look and make it more readable and a better application to be used in our advertising campaigns, website and collateral materials.”
“So, the idea of the iconic Beaches of South Walton and the three umbrellas logo was born with the development of the TDC. I think change is good and possibly the change in the name and look of the new logo was researched and considered the best way to market Beaches but when you have a logo with some 25-plus years of longevity, before a change is made you may want to consider the equity of the brand message before you move forward with something so different. Sometimes it's the equity of a brand that gives so much value to a destination,” Titus told The Sun.
The umbrellas were not only used in the TDC's print advertisements, but also on other items, which many still have.
"I am so for bringing the umbrellas back," said long-time local artist Donna Burgess. "I still have towels, a bag, and a car tag with the umbrellas on them. It's iconic."
Long-time local Allison Yii, agrees.
"Yay! The three-umbrella logo was so much stronger, branding wise. The three umbrellas were much more appealing to a wider audience. They were fun, eye-catching, yet classic," she said.
Former Walton County Citizen Services Director Ken Little said he also is all for bringing back the three umbrella logo.
"It was iconic, easily understood, unique, and 'ours.' I still have the car tags that we proudly sported for years. I sort of understand the marketing spin of rebranding after the 2010 oil spill, but I think everybody is past that now. Clearly, they are still coming, so let’s be who we are," he said.
Former Walton Chamber of Commerce Director Pam Tedesco said she loved that brand for the Beaches of South Walton and would welcome its return.
Valerie Lofton said she loves the idea of the umbrellas, but, feels one better would be to add sea turtles.
"Maybe the new logo could have a sea turtle on the umbrellas," she said.
Blue Mountain Beach resident Richard Fowlkes said he always liked the beach umbrellas and hated to see them go away.
"I have never been crazy about the new logo," he said. "On the other hand, what a waste of resources to go from one to the other and back again. Still, I don’t think a desire to not go back and forth is a good reason to stick with something that leaves the target audience flat. I’m in favor of those umbrellas."
With all its support, however, Bagby said a final decision has not been made.
"There are five options now on the table and the return to the three red-and-white striped beach umbrellas is one," he said.
Another option is a single, more modern-looking umbrella. A third is a picture of the coastline. A fourth is a design he describes a sun/wave, and a fifth is a picture of the back of an Adirondack chair.
"Our focus groups see it (three striped umbrellas) as a step back," said Bagby, who said the options will be taken back to marketing at the end of May.