Resident recommends branding of Naples

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Branding is something that livestock owners do. They brand their cattle or sheep with their logo so that everyone knows that those animals belong to that particular agricultural business.

Branding is also a time-proven technique used in marketing. It can apply to products that people might buy. It can apply to a town that people might want to visit.

After all, tourism is a renewable resource.

If the Town of Naples had a brand, it would certainly play off the boating atmosphere that is so prevalent to anyone crossing the Causeway between May and September, according to Jonathon “Jon” March.

“Naples is one of the few towns in Maine with a remaining waterfront culture from the turn of the century,” he said.

March is a Naples resident who is involved in the annual Classic Wooden Boat Show on the Causeway; he takes on the role of emcee during that well-attended event. Also, March operates the business Imageworks, which provides consulting on outdoor lighting among other things.

On Monday, March had several recommendations of ways to enhance the tourist experience.

The perfect balance — something that is required while on a boat — is promoting the town while adhering to the residents’ desires as expressed in the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, he said.

At this point in time, his ideas are just that — ideas. None of his concepts are being immediately pursued although some of the items he mentioned such as signage and lighting are topics being considered by the Naples Ordinance Review Committee.

“These are visionary things for the town,” March said.

He provided a quick presentation for the Naples Board of Selectmen on Monday. March spoke during public participation time, and asked to be on the agenda in the future.

“I would like to be included (on the agenda) to propose this in more details. I just glossed over this,” he said.

“I’ve been working with a town in Connecticut. They have the same issues that Naples has: Shoreland Zoning laws, signage,” he said.

Some of his advice was maintaining an eye for detail and getting rid of trash before weekend events happen. He showed a photo of garbage that had washed up on the beach before the Classic Wooden Boat Show.

In many cases, the town can utilize its maintenance worker to remove the hundreds of Red Solo cups from the area. Another handy option is using the services of Caretake America. Both options have been used to clean up the Causeway prior to an outdoor event, March said.

Take out the trash and add flower boxes around the Causeway railing, he said.

Sometimes, the town misses out on keeping tourists around longer. He witnessed a busload of people arrive at the Songo River Queen II during the off season. They got out, looked around and left, he said.

March suggested interpretive signs at four locations on the Causeway. The small kiosks would be tastefully-designed and would hold brochures for the Naples Museum and other town entities. Ideally, a business would pay for the cost of the structure in return for having its name on the side of the interpretive sign.

Another suggestion that was in line with the branding concept: New welcome-to-Naples banners. The current banners have a drawing of a rubber duck, he said, not something for which Naples should be remembered. He touted another design for the banners: An image of a classic boat on the water. The proposed logo was similar to a poster for the antique boat show.

The design is more modern and much more applicable to Naples, he said.

“Our biggest attraction and biggest economic driver for over 100 classic years has been our incredible water recreation. That’s what the people come for — it is our ‘brand,’” March said. “It is what side our bread is buttered on. People love it and travel here generation after generation for it. So, let’s promote that image!”

He cautioned, “Don’t euthanize, don’t throw a wet blanket on” the rich and vibrant nightlife for which Naples is known.

As he had stated earlier, March tried to incorporate into his proposed improvements the concept of the rural New England architecture and family-friendly atmosphere.

Most importantly, any changes should follow the guidelines and desires outlined in the town’s comp plan, he said.

“This is all for naught if we don’t stick to what the people of Naples want,” he said.

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