The little town of Depoe Bay is about to get a big makeover in destination branding. Laura Furgurson, who became Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce Executive Director in April, is leading the effort, which is backed by a $20,000 grant from OCVA’s Strategic Investment Fund as well as a $20,000 matching grant from Travel Oregon.
Furgurson says the chamber received grant funding at the end of the summer and intends to have the new brand rolled out by the end of this year. The OCVA grant will be used to create a new logo, revise messaging, rebrand and build a digital presence and content, the concepts of which were already outlined by the chamber as part of the grant application. Travel Oregon grant funds will be used for print and digital advertising and will highlight off-season travel.
Furgurson says the biggest challenge of her position is determining how to combine longstanding, volunteer-led efforts with a spirited new direction.
“The challenge is blending local traditions and the hard work of volunteers while reframing to be more aligned with the travel and tourism industry and how people travel,” she says.
Claiming the title of “Whale Watching Capitol of the Oregon Coast,” Depoe Bay is a town visitors love once they find it. That’s part of the reason for the rebranding effort.
“A lot of visitors, at least new ones, happen upon us,” Furgurson says. “We hear them say, ‘I wish I had known! I wish I had spent more time.”
Furgurson hopes to raise the town’s profile by highlighting its unique characteristics. In addition to resident grey whales that can be seen ten months of the year, Depoe Bay also has wonderful views of the ocean from everywhere as well as a charming harbor (the world’s smallest navigable harbor, according to the chamber website), a picturesque park and adjacent hiking trails. A local sea geyser — the Spouting Horn — is popular all year but is especially dynamic during winter storm season.
“There’s shock and awe and then everyone laughs because someone always gets wet,” she says,
Furgurson, who was also recently hired as Executive Director for the Waldport Chamber of Commerce, says she’s working with the chamber, OCVA, Travel Oregon and a local economic development alliance on the rebrand project.
Her advice to others applying for grants is to follow the process carefully.
“Just be thoughtful, be thorough, and try to get a good sense of what OCVA and Travel Oregon are looking for and want to fund.”
And for those interested in weighing in on Depoe Bay’s new image, she says, “Definitely chime in if you want to participate in the process.”
Photo by Larry Andreasen