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North Bay Business Journal

Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 5:02 pm

Sonoma wine, tourism groups unveil regional marketing effort

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    We Are Sonoma County logo

    Sonoma County's wine, grape and tourism industries collaborated on the uniform brand and marketing effort, "We are Sonoma County."

    SANTA ROSA — A coalition of Sonoma County wine, grape and tourism organizations today unveiled a new coordinated marketing strategy, an effort that participants said is designed to raise the county’s profile among other winemaking destinations in the United States.

    The strategy was developed over two years as a collaboration between the Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau. Known as “We Are Sonoma County,” the program includes advertising tools for a variety of media formats and is expected to begin with a national print advertising campaign this fall.

    “Through our brand essence work, we defined the character of Sonoma County as genuine, independent and adventurous,” said Honore Comfort, executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. “Likewise, our core audience can be described as ‘experience seekers’ — people who are confident, independent thinkers with natural curiosity and a sense of discovery, who like to try new things.”

    Included in the materials is a new Sonoma County brand mark, a stamp-like image designed to convey “the unique craftsmanship at the heart of grape growing and winemaking in Sonoma County,” according to materials from the campaign.

    While the three organizations will adopt the brand mark as their logo, it will also be made available to other Sonoma County companies and organizations after Sept. 14. A new Web site, www.wearesonomacounty.com, outlines the usage guidelines for logo, along with the direction of the campaign.

    North Bay market strategy firm BHC Consulting worked to define a “brand essence” and target audience for Sonoma County’s offerings related to grapes, wine and tourism during an initial phase in the branding effort.

    The firm identified a well-educated demographic that is 30 years or older and makes above-average income for their age group as an appropriate target for marketing. That demographic was also defined as “adventure seekers,” those who enjoy travel, outdoor activities and wine as a staple but not dominant part of their experiences.

    A second phase involved the development of the new brand mark, designed by international brand consulting firm Landor Associates. The marketing campaign and design guidelines were developed by the Asterix Group, based in San Francisco.

    “The branding and campaign all focus on the fact that Sonoma County and its American Viticultural Areas, along with our heritage as the birthplace of the California wine industry, makes us unique among premier wine regions,” said Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission.

    “By working with the vintners and winegrape commission on this project, the tourism bureau is able to promote some of the world’s best wine and one of the world’s best wine regions,” said Ken Fischang, president and CEO of the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau.

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