Explore Sisters website goes live

 

Last updated 1/30/2024 at 10:15am



The long-awaited website for the Sisters’ Destination Management Organization (DMO), Explore Sisters, went live last week at http://www.exploresisters.com.

Now being winter, the introductory photograph is of the Three Sisters mountains and a snow-covered landscape overlaid with the new Sisters logo. Plans include prioritizing the information and artwork by season to keep the website current and fresh.

The headline says, “The Old West. All Grown Up.” The introductory paragraph provides ample reasons to come visit Sisters. Visitors learn more by choosing: Get Outdoors, Ways to Play, Places to Eat, Where to Stay, and Sisters Events. Each mouse click reveals colorful photographs and information with links to websites telling the stories of Sisters eateries, lodging, events, and outdoor recreation and exploration opportunities.

The board decided to take the time necessary to create a quality product that can serve all their needs. The professional branding guide contains the primary logo as well as a palette of eight colors to be used in all materials produced — evergreen, leaf, sky, bark, gold, trail dust, black, and white. Besides the full logo, there is a monogram version for special use as door signage, t-shirts, or when there are space constraints.

The primary logo is quite simple, drawing on Sisters’ Western heritage, while also having a slightly modern feel. The creators described it this way: “The serif typeface has been customized just for Sisters, adding Western flair, but making it feel like a boutique brand with a distinctive personality. The combination of strong letter forms with more delicate type suggests that there is more to Sisters than meets the eye. We added the ‘EST.’ established date to lend historical credence and paired it all with ‘Oregon’ to make sure people know exactly where we are.”

To help convey the Sisters brand personality, illustrations were selected that can be used in materials and can also be used in conjunction with the logo. The drawings include the Three Sisters, a pine tree, a horse head, and the antlered head of a mule deer. Any of the illustrations can be used with any of the brand colors.

There are three individual typefaces, each for specific purposes, to provide a sense of continuity over time and materials. All elements used in marketing and correspondence blend together to create a professional, cohesive look.

According to the creators, “Secondary pattern elements for use in layouts are symbols of Western culture and its diverse influences. Quilt patterns convey a feeling of warmth, comfort, and tradition. Paisley’s intricate and flowing patterns, which gained popularity in the West during the 18th and 19th centuries, evoke a sense of elegance and adventure.”

The year 2023 saw the hiring of Scott Humpert as the DMO executive director, and the establishment of the Board of Directors which meets on a regular basis. The priority was to do all the organizational setup, starting at ground zero. During that year, they conducted a community survey of stakeholders and businesses. They studied other destination resort towns to determine Sisters’ unique position and how to talk about that uniqueness. By year’s end, they were up and running and ready for business.

A branding committee, including several board members, business owners, and Humpert, put out a request for proposals and selected Lookout, based in Portland, as the agency to create all the elements to go into the marketing, communications, and website. They began their work in July with a projected finish date of January 2024, but finished up in November of last year.

According to their website, “Lookout focuses on helping destinations, and craft food, beverage, and hospitality clients define their unique offerings and communicate that experience to the world through brand development, strategic marketing planning, and breakthrough campaigns. Lookout works as a collaborative pulling together teams specific to each project from a wide-reaching network of some of the finest creative talent anywhere.”

Humpert is currently a staff of one, and over the past year he has been working nonstop. The budget will determine when and if a second employee can be hired, a position that would require someone with multiple skills.

The current operating budget is funded by one-third of the annual transient lodging tax (TLT) collected by the City from lodging establishments, and fluctuates from year to year, or $350,000 minimum. Because the DMO is a 501(c)(6), it is not eligible to apply for many of the grants available to 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Humpert doesn’t want to rely on grants to build capacity because they are temporary sources of income. When they are gone, often the capacity, like an employee, must go, too. Humpert will be looking for opportunities to provide a steady, sustainable income stream beyond the TLT.

If 2023 was about organizing and getting up and running, Humpert says 2024 will be about doing fundamental marketing built around the logo, brand, and supporting artwork. Last Monday, the website had a soft launch, allowing for some of the functionality to be tested, making sure all links worked. During 2023, Explore Sisters was accessed through a Central Oregon Visitors website and didn’t contain all the information now available.

The first phase of the website is inviting people to visit Sisters and providing them with links to what to do and where to stay and eat. Phase Two, which should be complete in several months, will contain fun enhancements, a community calendar with short descriptions, and links to the websites of the events’ sponsoring organizations.

The website can also be used as a referral source for local businesses and organizations.

Plans include prioritizing the information and artwork by season to keep the website current and fresh. At the bottom of the website on the left is the link to tourism industry resources, news, and events. There is also a space to sign up to get Sisters trip ideas by email and links to Facebook and Instagram.

Humpert explained, “The DMO website is the hub of our marketing of Sisters. It acts as a referral site to restaurants, lodging, retail establishments, adventures, anything a visitor might be looking for. All our ads and communications will direct people to ExploreSisters.com.”

 

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