The North Coast Food Trail is a self-guided tour of culinary and cultural destinations—the first tourism concept of its kind in Oregon. We were tapped by the NCFT team for ground-up branding, web development, and ongoing marketing support, along with help creating clear, evocative messaging that explained the concept to visitors and encouraged buy-in from stakeholders.
At the time, the “food trail” concept was still pretty obscure. So our initial challenge was to help people understand what it is, and why they’d want to get involved—while supporting a successful launch. The client also needed help in “selling” the new brand/concept to curious participants and community stakeholders. Simple and usable tools would be needed to make it easy for visitors to experience the Trail in the way our client envisioned.
Brand Design + Launch
Job one was to create an identity that communicated the ideas of “food” and “travel” while reflecting the rugged personality of the region. (The backpack foreshadows the idea that visitors may have to invest some effort to reap the Trail’s rewards.) Our work included concepts for ancillary art that illustrated the tagline “Food, Farm, Fish, Forage.” We created an animated brand video for use in conjunction with the launch to both announce the concept and highlight the component experiences. These were designed with the ability to deploy individually via social media.
We supported the launch of the initiative both by managing the design and production of collateral but also working with the client and participants to make sure information was accurate, and to help when fixes were needed.
Including Stakeholders and Participants
As part of our brand identity design process, we presented creative options to the NCFT team and helped them consider the opportunities and risks associated with each direction. We also introduced the chosen logo, along with website and collateral prototypes, to a larger group of stakeholders and participants, supporting early involvement and support.
The Website: a Handy Field Guide
We worked with the client to distill their vision for the NCFT website: making it easy for users—to find the sorts of experiences they want to have, to plan a trip around them, and to get connected to the participant locations. We installed and customized a map feature that geolocates the visitor and displays nearby points of interest, and allows them to filter destinations by category. We also prioritized mobile usability and speed, knowing that many users would be viewing the site “on the trail.”
Additional Creative Support
The NCFT team relied on us to deliver other creative services such as print collateral, advertising, and campaigns for Facebook and Instagram—making it easy for them to keep the style and messaging consistent across mediums.
Beyond the production of design assets, the client looked to us for big-picture strategic direction. This partnership allowed them to focus on critical tasks such as creating and organizing new tourism initiatives—not micromanaging vendors.
Ultimately we supported a successful launch that felt confident and coordinated, and helped visitors to have a rich and memorable experience of the region. The Trail has also spotlighted and promoted many of the local businesses.
Our social media campaigns reached 350,000 people in key tourist regions and increased the brand’s following three-fold. The initiative won Travel Oregon’s Industry Achievement Award for best niche tourism concept for 2018. Here are some other highlights:
- The first-year (2018) saw 60 business participants. This increased to 75 in 2019.
- The NCFT was awarded an Editor’s Choice Travel Award for Best Food Trail in the West, in Sunset Magazine’s Sept. 2019 issue.
- Several participating businesses reported a 15% to 30% increase in revenue in both 2018 and 2019.
- NCFT events and activities have created new opportunities for producers, including hosting national food buyers for a tour of local production facilities and farms.
“Cardwell Creative is not just a vendor but a partner in the way we do business. We depend on them for accurate and effective websites, SEO/SEM, social media ads, graphic design, and solutions to problems we encounter in tourism industry campaigns and messaging. Cardwell is reliable, and timely, and are great communicators. Highly recommend this talented firm.”
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