July 18-20, The Workshop produced the 18th Annual Sequim Lavender Farm Tour & Fair. This celebration of Sequim’s world-famous lavender farms was not your average summer fair – in fact it wasn’t just a fair, but a collection of miniature festivals located on working lavender farms. Fun and unique, this event was brought to us as a messaging project where we were asked to rebrand, reposition and create a clear messaging platform to increase guest attendance and most of all, guest satisfaction.
How did it go? You’ll see – read on!
The Messaging Problem
What we haven’t told you yet, is that there are two lavender events that occur in Sequim on the same weekend which have been confusing the community and guests for years. Let’s break it down:
- Sequim Lavender Farm Tour & Fair (produced by The Workshop)
- Annual Fundraising Event
- Admission Required o Five Farms on tour– each with a full festival experience
- Centrally located Fair in the Park
- Heritage farms – the original lavender farms
- Sequim Lavender Festival (a separate event)
- Free Admission
- Centrally located Street Fair
- Seven farms on tour – no festival experience
See the problem? The two events are similar – not identical. Unfortunately, the Heritage Lavender farms – the original lavender farms in the Sequim-Dungeness valley who launched and continue to act as the cornerstone of the lavender industry – have become lost in the messy and confusing messaging. The Olympic Peninsula lavender industry is the largest and most established in the United States and requires effective messaging as it continues to grow. So The Workshop stepped in to flex our messaging muscles by elevating these original heritage lavender farms and re-establishing a clear and distinct marketing voice to visitors from around the country.
Strategic Rebranding and Repositioning
In order to rebrand an event that was previously perceived as small and local, The Workshop needed to bump up the graphic design, clarify the messaging, design a new web presence and market the event as a high-quality summer getaway. A new color scheme was selected, clean lines, less written copy and new art were all incorporated into the rebranding process of the event. Photography was shot and selected to showcase the farms as destinations. By repositioning the event in this fashion, the hope was to create a modern and forward-thinking brand around the heritage farms and to draw in guests from around the state of Washington and around the nation.
The Workshop also started the process of clarifying the lavender farmers’ nonprofit story, and reestablishing the social good and cause envisioned by the farmers 18 years ago. By asking the right questions and communicating clearly with the farmers about what The Workshop had seen the organization do that makes the Pacific Northwest a better place, we were able to craft a clear and concise mission with five key pillars, all supported by facts and figures. By clarifying why the lavender farmers do what they do, it refocuses the messaging back onto the heritage lavender farms and away from the previously distracting and destructive messaging.
Communicating the New Brand On and Offsite
The offsite communications of the brand had run for months on end, all leading up to the event in July. The main objective of the offsite communications was to build awareness of the new brand, clarify the messages provided to guests before arrival and to promote advance ticket sales. Some of the communication methods we utilized for our offsite messaging included:
- Clean photographic imagery inviting the viewers to see the farms
- Strong social media presence
- Digital and print ad campaigns
- New and frequently updated website
- Print collateral including brochures and posters
- Press releases and news stories
- Festival event listings
- Partnership cross promotional efforts
The onsite communications aimed to attract guests who would not have otherwise purchased Farm Tour tickets, provide guests with a complete Lavender Weekend experience with quality information, and to raise awareness about the nonprofit organization’s mission and how its work affects each and every guest and community member. Some of the ways we communicated our messaging onsite include:
- Large Farm Tour signs that explained each of the farms in detail
- Donation boxes with mission-related signage
- Trained information booths that provided accurate information
- New Welcome Center located at an entry into Sequim
- Printed collateral including brochures, passports and programs
The Workshop’s strategy was that—with clarified messaging on and offsite, and a new modern brand—the organization’s event would flourish, grow, attract new visitors and educate the public about their mission, their work and why lavender farms are important. And of course, the entire experience was designed to be positive and memorable for the guests who attended.
After conducting a post-event survey, we discovered that the Sequim Lavender Farm Tour & Fair was an overwhelmingly positive experience for our guests; they loved the farms! We were successful in sending our guests directly to the farms to experience their miniature festivals complete with food, drink and entertainment, and they loved it enough to say that they will spread the word to their friends and family.
The feedback we received points to a continuation of audience growth in 2015 with further plans to attract a younger audience. The strategy would utilize the newly modernized Sequim Lavender branding and implement new programming designed for a wider array of interests; a concert series, a Saturday night party, and other new programming might be in the works!
After reflecting on the process and results of the event, we recommended developing a year-round messaging strategy in order to develop a wider audience and grow the farm tours as their own entities in 2015. We look forward to watching the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association continue to flourish and attract more guests to the Olympic Peninsula!