AVON — What makes this town a great place to live? How would you characterize the residents? What is unique here that no other place can claim?
Those are among the questions examined by a group of 40-50 Avon residents and stakeholders on Wednesday night at a community envisioning session for brand development.
Among those in attendance were business leaders including Ceil Folz, with the Vail Valley Foundation, and Marci Colby, with Alpine Bank, residents such as Mark Luzar and Amy Phillips, and Avon elected officials and staff including councilman Jake Wolf and Town Manager Virginia Egger. The group was divided into seven focus groups of six or seven people, which were asked to come up with answers to a variety of questions asked by Origin Design and Communications — the firm hired to design the new brand — in an effort to help envision what that brand will look like.
Danielle Kristmanson, the creative director at Origin, said aside from some research into the town, Wednesday’s meeting was the first step in creating a new logo and tagline that will shape Avon’s future.
“The goal is to create a really vibrant mountain community, and to do that we’ve found it requires both driving tourism here and encouraging locals to live here,” said Kristmanson. “We need to work here, live here and play here.”
In identifying Avon’s strengths, groups agreed on things such as location and value. Weaknesses identified by the groups included the lack of a town center and the town’s offseasons. Residents were described as friendly and welcoming.
Origin’s Wednesday community meeting was followed by another meeting Thursday with the town’s economic development core advisory committee. Kristmanson said those who were unable to make the meeting are encouraged to send their suggestions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want your stories, the things that are really meaningful to you in terms of what it’s like to live here,” she said. “What brought you here, and what keeps you here.”
Avon will pay Origin $28,000 for the brand conceptualization, another $12,500 for the logo and $3,000 for tagline development.
Local Linda Martin questioned the selection of the Whistler, British Columbia-based company for the work.
“Why wasn’t a local, state or even USA-based design firm hired in this design process?” Martin asked in an email to the Vail Daily.
Egger said after a competitive bid process, Origin was selected due to their experience.
‘Who is Avon?’
“They’re very creative, and have an openness to look at what Avon really can be,” Egger said. “In the materials they brought to us and the examples of other communities that they’ve worked with, they really showcased that they’ll really settle in to looking at who is Avon, what does Avon want to be and can it be that? ... We believe this company has that larger experience throughout the ski resort industry, summer resort and mountain resort industry to come and work with us.”
GOOD, BAD AND UGLY
Origin examined both the good and the bad qualities of Avon on Wednesday evening.
In asking the focus groups, “Why are visitors attracted to Avon?” groups came back with answers such as “Are they?” or “We’re not sure that they are.”
Value in Avon against Vail was determined to be a big draw for visitors, but groups were careful not to use the word “cheap” when describing that quality. The word “diversity” was used frequently, in both economic and ethnic terms, and eventually the topic of “white flight” at the schools was broached, with some in attendance saying they had opted out of public schools in Avon for their children.
“Ninety-two percent of the student body at Avon Elementary is Hispanic,” Wolf said. “That’s not diverse.”
Just to whom this branding will be targeting — potential residents or visitors — was a question asked to Origin by one of the focus groups.
“We’ve found you need both of those,” Kristmanson said.
The focus groups seemed to agree.
“If we don’t have an influx of visitors, I don’t think our community is large enough to support itself in the way we’re envisioning,” Luzar said.
Avon expects to have the brand conceptualization and platform completed by Feb. 10 for committee feedback, with a final presentation and Town Council acceptance in late February. Once this brand platform is accepted, Origin will begin creative development for logo and tagline during the month of March.
Staff Writer John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 and email@example.com
“The goal is to create a really vibrant mountain community, and to do that we’ve found it requires both driving tourism here and encouraging locals to live here.
Creative director, Origin Design Communications