Eagle County ponders its image | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County ponders its image

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Image is everything ” especially when it comes to becoming a premiere mountain community, county officials say.

Visitors and residents said they would describe the Vail Valley in a variety of ways ” from an upscale ski resort town to a rapidly growing, dynamic community.

Those perceptions are just what Eagle County officials want to know as they try to answer the question, “What is Eagle County’s image?” so they can create a new logo and tagline for the county.

The current logo depicts an eagle flying over a snow-capped peak.

Finding out how people think of the area will help the county give itself a makeover of sorts, and help the area market itself as one of the top mountain communities and draw not only tourists, but permanent residents, County Communications Director Justin Finestone said.

“We want Eagle County to stand out as the best place to live, work and play. We feel this is important if we want to grow as a true community, and not just a second-homeowner community,” he said.

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“Positioning Eagle County this way could help draw the type of professional, well-paying jobs we need to sustain a viable middle class.”

The county has hired a marketing firm from Texas to find out what those perceptions are through online surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews and man-on-the-street interviews.

The area is characterized by outdoor life and sports, but not just skiing, Edwards resident Richard Smith said.

“We’re so much more than that. There’s so much more that drives the community, like road and mountain biking, golf, snowshoeing, telemarking, hiking,” he said.

Also, people who live in the area are diverse in background and many are very accomplished, Smith said.

“They’re unassuming and modest once you get to know them, though,” he said. “They’re just everyday folks.”

But visitors may have a different perception. Becky Larrick, 24, visiting from Omaha, Neb., described the Vail area as “upscale.”

“People seem to have lots of money, the way they act ” but that could just be my perception,” she said.

The surveys may also help the county come up with better ways to market things such as events at the county fairgrounds, Finestone said.

He said he hopes the logo and information from the survey will not only be used by the county, but other community groups also, like chambers of commerces or economic councils.

“We want to encourage other people to use it, so we can get it out there,” he said.

Some residents said they did not even know what the logo looked like when asked.

That is what the county wants to change, Finestone said. Right now there are several different versions of the logo on county signs and vehicles, he said.

Basing the logo and marketing strategies on what residents and visitors say will let everyone participate in Eagle County’s current and future image, Finestone said.

“That way it’s theirs, not something we’ve told them it is,” he said.