By Associated Press • 

Hermiston ponders move away from watermelon logo

HERMISTON — It started when city officials painted over the picture of a slice of watermelon that adorned a water tower in Hermiston and substituted a slogan favored by the city manager.

The town in northeastern Oregon has long been known for sugary melons grown in the sandy, volcanic soils of the Columbia Plateau.

Now, the City Council finds itself unsure how to market Hermiston: Play to the city's reputation for sugary watermelons? Or use the words “Hermiston: You can GROW here” on vehicles, business cards, letterheads, signs, advertising, social media, merchandise and more.

The new city manager, Byron Smith, wants the city to adopt a branding campaign that moves away from the watermelon image and emphasizes growth. He has made two pitches to the City Council to explain how the likes of Starbucks and Apple build a following by cultivating their brands.

“Brands are created in the mind ... I'm going to argue that watermelon is not a brand,” he said this week at the City Council's second session on how to proceed.

City Council member Ron Hardin said he thinks the city should have started smaller, using the new brand on something small and cheap instead of painting it on the water tower, where it has been heavily criticized.

He said the slogan looks fine on colorful photos and travel magazine ads but, “just by itself, it's blah.”

Mayor Dave Drotzmann said the words about growth looked beautiful on a photo of a girl eating a watermelon, but the city wasn't going to stick that picture on the side of a water tower or a car.

He and the rest of the council asked Smith to come back again with examples of how the words would look on business cards and other items.


Information from: East Oregonian

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