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Tourism association unveils new logo

Otter Tail County has just been given a new logo, with an old look.

Reflecting the nostalgic feel that visitors say the Lakes Country invokes in them, the logo has a retro, 1950s-style design, and features the phrase, “A Thousand Lakes, A Thousand Memories.”

The logo, created using market research from a survey completed by tourists, was unveiled at a Dec. 4 meeting of the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners.

Along with a new website expected to launch in February 2014, the logo is intended to help ‘brand’ the Otter Tail County area. Resorts and other Lakes Country businesses are encouraged to use the logo and promote the website to help create customer loyalty and encourage repeat visitors.

It’s all part of the Otter Tail Lakes Country Tourism Association’s efforts to better market the area, making it not only a summer destination but a tourist attraction all year long.

The county board previously approved funding for marketing enhancements of what was formerly known as the Otter Tail Country Tourism Association. The word “Lakes” is now part of the new name.

Most members of the association are based in Otter Tail County. A few, however, are located just outside county lines, which is why the association uses the word country and not county.

“We took surveys and collected data on what distinguishes us (lakes country) from other areas,” said Nick Leonard of East Silent Lake Resort, a past president of the tourism association.

A survey of households that had visited Otter Tail County as tourists within the past year showed that 86 percent of them intend to return, an impressively high percentage.

“The images of the county that respondents ranked most positively relate to the natural environment and the small town feel of our area,” said Leonard. “Respondents are quite loyal to this region of west central Minnesota.”

The tourism association contracted with the University of Minnesota Center for Small Towns to conduct the branding study. Among the coordinators was Ryan Pesch, local extension educator with the University of Minnesota.

“Their work was influenced from a study conducted by Dr. Bill Gartner, a U of M expert on consumer research and regional branding,” said Leonard.

Duluth-based Faster Solutions was hired by the tourism association, with support from the five-member county board, to coordinate the upcoming internet changes.

On its current website, the tourism association emphasizes that area businesses offer everything needed by tourists, from banks to bait shops, hospitals to hardware stores, real estate agents to retail stores, restaurants and other goods and services.

The new logo includes the year 1858, when Minnesota became a state. The associated wording of “A Thousand Lakes, A Thousand Memories” refers to the memories that some survey respondents said have been passed on from one generation to the next in their families.

“We have the most lakes of any county in the United States,” said Leonard. “Our new branding and enhanced website will help us capitalize on what we have in our area to attract even more tourists.”

Project results are based on a sample of 907 respondents who participated in the survey either by mail or electronically. Coordinators removed 237 of these respondents, who reported living in or owning property in Otter Tail County.

“This was done in order to allow for results that best represent visitors from outside the region,” said Leonard.

Current president of the tourism association is Dan Hurder of the Otter Supper Club and Lodge in Ottertail. The association started in 1976, and its membership includes a wide variety of businesses. Area communities also play an active role in the association.

Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent