Downtown Ocean City Launches New Brand
A new logo, slogan and image will serve as the foundation for marketing downtown Ocean City year-round.
Downtown merchants, city officials and business leaders gathered Thursday evening on the grounds of the Ocean City Tabernacle for the unveiling of the downtown shopping district's new brand.
Shop. Dine. Unwind. Year-Round.
Downtown Ocean City NJ
The slogan is the centerpiece of a new logo for the downtown that stands out from the City of Ocean City's logo. It is underscored by two lines of gold and blue that represent the beach and ocean.
The new brand is the result of a six-month effort to distill all of the downtown's attributes into a simple and short message — a call to action for shoppers and visitors. One of the primary goals is to promote Ocean City as a year-round shopping destination.
Main Street Ocean City — led by Paul Cunningham and Marcia Shallcross — received a $20,000 grant from Main Street New Jersey for design and promotional services in creating the new brand.
Groups of business owners and other stakeholders met through the winter and spring to brainstorm ideas for the new brand in a collaborative effort. Main Street New Jersey Marketing Director Cindy Williams led the local steering committee that developed the downtown brand identity.
“They were consistently dedicated, and never missed a session,” Williams said of the committee. “The group was able to determine their goals early, and were sensitive to the city’s identity. The bar has been lifted.”
Some of the committee's goals were to create brand images to promote tourism, pinpoint their audience, define the downtown Ocean City culture, and identify its location.
The group transitioned from verbal to visual by listing words that relate to Asbury Avenue, and then finding images to match the words. The images were put together on a shopping bag that will become an icon of Downtown Ocean City.
“Images are a universal language,” Shallcross said.
The “What’s in the Bag?” image can be altered to suit every season, shop and event. It will also be used in conjunction with photographs of chic shoppers and Asbury storefronts.
Main Street established colors that are common in storefronts along the Avenue, and used it in the layout of billboards and other promotional material. They encourage shops to utilize the image and color scheme to the fullest, to strengthen the community’s style.
The campaign will also feature slogans unique to its Asbury Avenue shopping district: “Shop.Dine.Unwind.Year Round.,” “Between the Beach and the Bay,” “Quaint Coastal Shops,” “Over 100 Independent and Locally Owned Stores,” and many others that will soon be promoted throughout the community.
The website (downtownocnj.com) will be launched by early July and will feature the 12 major assets of downtown Ocean City. The site will feature all the shops on Asbury, include color schemes, design tutorials for local businesses that wish to participate, a downtown calendar, key images to promote the style of the new downtown brand and much more.
“The evolution of the process was amazing," Main Street Ocean City President Paul Cunningham recalled. "The brand comes to life. Now we have the tools to promote the downtown as a year-round shopping destination.”
— Eddie Shiffler contributed to this article.