By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent
A hearty round of applause early Thursday evening followed the unveiling of the town’s new logo and marketing tagline, the end result of a two-year project.
“It’s wonderful!” shouted an audience member.
“Bravo!” exclaimed another attendant.
The design of an encircled antique capital W with a star on top was created under the guidance of 30 community members over the course of two years, according to Townsend “T” Belisle of New York City’s Haystack Needle LLC, a design and production agency established in 2001.
“The W is relevant and historic as well as timeless,” Belisle said. “The star identifies excellence. It can also feel Olde American as well as representing Woodstock as the county seat. The town is also known for its star on top of Mount Tom that is lit up part of the year and can be seen for miles around.”
Belisle gave an hour-long Power-Point presentation illuminating the 24-month process of arriving at an agreed upon mark.
The final refinement of the logo included stylizing the star to match the W, keeping the aesthetic W but making it more readable, simplifying the edges of the circle to optimize it for all sizes, and filling the circle a bit more than originally planned.
The result is the final mark of an encircled starred W – with or without Made In or over the phrase Woodstock, Vermont. The official logo is in vertical format and the typeface is Nexa, said Belisle. It is designed to be used in a variety of fields including T-shirts, ballcaps, official town vehicles, and/or local advertising.
Local resident Jeff Kahn suggested that the star on top of Mt. Tom now be lit up all year round.
“What if we had that star on from dusk until midnight making it more efficient and keeping it on all the time?” asked Kahn to a clapping audience. “It makes sense for this community to be behind it. It takes any controversy away, and it’s a beautiful way of making the logo strong.”
The tagline that would be used in these marketing materials and advertising is “ make the time,” Belisle related. The idea is to create some memorable and perhaps dramatic phrase that sums up the tone and premise of the logo and allows the public to remember it.
The phrase would be applied in a variety of ways and might include, for example, such branding slogans as “ make the time” …. “to savor a destination (Woodstock Inn) or … to have another (Worthy Kitchen) or …. To see it made in front of you (Farmhouse Pottery) or … to try a greener pasture (Sustainable Woodstock) or …to craft your own heirloom (Shackleton Thomas) or … to Wassail (town Christmas Wassail Parade).”
Beginning in October 2013, a small group of individuals, informally calling itself The Branding Committee, spearheaded several work sessions with interested community members to give the town a new and distinctive identity stamp.
The first meeting was an offspring of the original innovative group of five called “Woodstock Is…” and included Beth Finlayson, Director of the Chamber of Commerce; Sally Miller of Sustainable Woodstock; Amelia Rappaport of the Woodstock Farmer’s Market; Scott Franzen of the Woodstock Gallery; Macy Lawrence of WCTV, Jenna Ware of the Woodstock Inn and Resort and Jill Davies.
In time, over 4,000 surveys were sent out to obtain national and even international input concerning the future image of this shire town. The mission was to get input from a greater number of people from different backgrounds and perspectives, according to Rappaport at the time.
The results came in and committee members learned but had no agreed upon results.
From October 2014 to September 2015, the original group split into a creative team to curate ideas, design and refine options and a management team to lend direction, select and champion option to the broad community, Belisle explained.
Members of the creative team included Lev Belford, Keri Cole, Jason Drebitko, Patrick Fultz, Nigel Hollis, Sarit Melmed, Michael Stoner, Charlie Kimbell and Townsend Belisle. Those joining management included Lev Belford, Phil Camp, Beth Finlayson, Carolyn Kimbell, Courtney Lowe, Sally Miller, Amelia Rappaport, Alita Wilson and Jeff Zayas.
The continued vision was to “build a brand identity that differentiates the Village/Town from other places in a meaningful way,” according to Belisle. It would be a “meaningfully different identity (that) is something that can be used to attract visitors to the area, to attract people to live and work here and that the community can embrace,” he added.
The goal was to add to the economy and vitality of the community and to attract as many visitors to the area — and ultimately residents — who had some shared characteristics including an affinity with Vermont; an importance on a sense of place and community and family; independence, entrepreneurial, progressive; socially conscious and interested in the environment; adventurous; the desire to seek a place of escape and to disconnect from their everyday life.
Team members sought to create a brand identity that would set Woodstock apart from other places in a clearly identifiable, meaningful way and that was easy for the target market to understand and that could be used by different enterprises in their own promotion, website, or other communication material, according to Belisle.
The teams’ agenda entailed reviewing a project brief, simplifying a target audience, outlining key attributes of Woodstock, and adding additional parameters and ideas.
The target audience would be composed of visitors and migrators. The key attributes that would ultimately attract visitors would focus on the aesthetics and abundant amenities of the town.
A lure in the form of a theme would be necessary, agreed team members who came up with “more or less,” “for those who know,” “Better Vermont,” or “make the time” which was the winner.
The groups then reviewed a variety of logos including local, peer/ competition, and such well-known designs as those associated with Paris, Rome, New York, Washington, D.C., and the Cayman Islands before coming up with its own logo use parameters and eventual application.
“This was a community endeavor,” said Belisle. “It represents community members from all over who worked long hours over years to come up with a logo all were in agreement with and could be easily executed.”
Belisle related a trademark search study is presently taking place to ensure there are no copyright infringements with the creation of the new town logo.
This article first appeared in the October 1, 2015 edition of the Vermont Standard.