Regional Branding Explainer

Mark DavisAll

eugenetech silicon shire
I’m a sucker for logos.

Given the opportunity, I’d slather my projects with All-The-Logos just like NASCAR.
Luckily for all of you, I work with folks who have better taste and common sense than I, so we tend to keep the #EugeneTech branding mellow.

Let’s talk regional branding,
Why add it?

It gives a story and a sense of place to things. It’s a way to imbue your products and services with genuine flavor. Oregon is known for its artisan physical goods, rugged outdoors and mossy climate, Portland is known as a foodie mecca and “Portlandia.” Visitors to Eugene and locals alike flock to the Saturday Market to take in the local produce, goods and ‘zaniness’ that the area is known for.

Over the years, our region has been kicking the tires on various branding efforts including, Southern Willamette Valley and Eugene/Springfield Area. Lately, I’ve been hearing Greater Eugene. There are some recognizable regional brands in our area that you may want to add to your product, website, or social media presence to add some of these stories and complement your personal or business’ brand.

I was curious about who owns our regional brands and what rights are given to use them. Here’s what I found.

Let’s explore from macro to micro.
Imagine zooming in on google maps starting at the state level.

Oregon

You can mention ‘Oregon’ in your product marketing as much as you like.

Even if you don’t think the state brand adds much value, it might for your customers. Once on a Scotland holiday I visited the Oban Distillery and smiled a bit when the tour guide kept talking up the ‘Oregon Oak’ used in the aging barrels. I hear that in the up-scale NY shopping districts, they consider Oregon to be known for artisan physical goods. It might be a stronger brand than you think.

Made in Oregon (MIO) is a brand of retail stores with a logo. I found a trademark for that, but no usage rights, so that made me curious and I contacted the MIO folks for more details. They verified their trademark ownership, but also acknowledged, a lot of people use it loosely for their businesses and products and they don’t mind. Not super clear, but open to personal or business use.

Chris Bucci, founder, heartsticker.com, struck a chord with the public when he put a green heart in a black outline of Oregon. What started as a bumper sticker soon showed up on everything. This is a registered trademark so if you like it, you should buy a sticker and not use the image in your personal branding. I asked Chris how he felt about folks using the image on their website to show some state pride. Here’s his response:

”Show your pride for your state by picking up a piece of trash, helping out a neighbor or buying a beer for a friend and sharing a story. These are real excellent ways of living your pride and love for your home.”

Silicon Shire

Zooming in a few levels we reach the never-adequately-explained zone called the Silicon Shire. I won’t attempt to define where the shire might start and stop here. My personal vision includes mountains and beaches and everything in between. Last time I checked there was a large Silicon Shire banner in the lobby of the Eugene airport.

So yeah, it’s a thing.

Silicon Shire is a nationally recognized tech-brand and has the most open use of any of the regional brands that I researched. If you visit, siliconshire.org/promote/, you’ll see a nice set of downloadable assets and a clear license to use the logo. There are two options to choose from: “Made in the Silicon Shire” or “Located in the Silicon Shire”. The latter option is nice for companies that are manufacturing out of area but are based here. You can put these logos on physical promo materials or your web site. You can even modify them.

For example, I could replace the “located in” with “We (heart) the” or “I hacked the” and make tee-shirts as long as I gave them away. If you use them digitally an attribution link is required via the creative commons license and the easiest way to do that is to simply link back to http://SiliconShire.org, our local business directory. Using the license makes everything clear and having a specific download page is handy. Other regional branding efforts should follow this lead. Nice work Concentric Sky.

TAO

The Technology Association of Oregon has a colorful logo and a branding guide. It’s sort-of a regional thing, but more of an association-thing. If you are a member, you get a “TAO Member” sticker for your window. They are less of a regional brand and more a promoter of regional tech businesses. A big part of what they do is hold events like “Experience Oregon Tech” and “Elevate Lane County” that promote others. It’s not really a brand you should use for your goods or services.

Note on Trademarks: Some of the logos and names mentioned here have trademarks. In all the instances researched the reason was so the name would not be grabbed by another region and cause confusion. Don’t assume a trademark blocks you from using the branding. Double-check with the owner and they will be happy to fill you in on the details. I’m personally a big fan of the Creative Commons licenses and will be reaching out to all these brands after this article is posted to encourage them publish clear usage guidelines and high quality assets.

Let’s zoom in further and talk about “Cities”. People love their cities and Eugene is no exception.

Eugene

The City of Eugene official logo (seal) is totally hands off. Anything with that logo is considered “official” so never use it. EUG[whatever] on the other hand is a free-for-all. The city uses it for campaigns like EugFun! and be on the lookout for EUGChange coming to a parking meter near you. If you’re feeling the EUGurge and nobody else is already EUGing it, feel free to get your EUG on!

Nope

yup

yup

EugeneTech

When it comes to tech, #EugeneTech is shared branding for a few loosely connected community organizations. We use it here on this blog and website as well as on social media (FB & twitter) to elevate and amplify announcements and events to help connect our tech community. This is also used by the Switchboard and soon on a jobs page. The Technology Association of Oregon (of the Southern Willamette Valley) folks have used it in the past for localized news. Eugene Cascades & Coast uses it to spotlight tech happenings and companies in the area. Feel free to use this in your own branding and social media efforts. It’s just a hashtag.

Using it will make magical things happen.

The EugeneTech logo is copy-written as Artsdigital.co as original art, but that’s sort-of unintentional. We (EugeneTech the org) use it for this site, social media and swag. The completely independent EugeneTechJobs blog will likely be using the logo soon. Once we pick creative commons license and publish the assets it will be clearer. Check /promote for details. EugeneTech is an Innovate Oregon program and it’s unclear what level of ownership a program can have. More research is required. If you use the logo on the footer of your site our editor, Jessica says she will personally give you a nickel. Look for ET swag at an event near you soon.

Now let’s get Hyper-local.
Zooooooooooom

Eugene District Branding

If you own a business downtown you can get free “DWN TWN EUG” decals for your window. Local orgs DEI (Downtown Eugene, Inc.), DEM (Downtown Eugene Merchants) and DEED (Downtown Eugene Economic Development) have rights to use the logo to support downtown companies. If you are confused by that acronym soup, it gets worse if you want to use the logo on your own stuff. That requires a Limited Non-Exclusive Intellectual Property License Agreement and a meeting with a board. Unless you are in the Downtown Service District you don’t have a reason to – for that amount of trouble. Be on the lookout for opportunities to get the logo stenciled or screen-printed at a few events each year.

There are other districts in the city and they all have unique branding. 5Th Street Market has a free logo that vendors in the district can use. I couldn’t find a link to the logo or a license attached so go for it if you are a member. The Whit has a flag but it was more popular “back in the day” so use it at your own risk. Some old timer might just hunt you down for being a poser. The take-away here is you can’t assume, so ask. When I was curious, I asked the Chamber of Commerce they put me in touch with the right folks. Facebook is a good resource as most orgs respond in a few days, plus there are official and unofficial neighborhood groups full of opinions and a few facts. Everyone seems to have a different take on the level of ownership they have on the logos.

All the opinions… let’s make soup!

Opinions are plentiful when talking about our regional branding. Some folks don’t like “Silicon” anything and some folks don’t like hash-tags. Some folks love one logo over another. Don’t even get people started about color preferences –

I have a few thoughts:

Firstly, I’m not a designer or a marketer and trust the opinions of professionals. I was around for the genesis of EugeneTech and it was truly a mundane search for domain names that were available. Secondly, I embrace working with the ingredients we have available. The “Stone Soup” story comes to mind. My favorite part is how folks come together, each giving a little bit to make something from nothing. I was personally not a fan of EUGBranding and used to trash-talk it a bit. Now I’ve embraced the EUG and YEUG should too!

It’s more satisfying to join the fun than to be a critic.

The intention behind all these brands of to give a sense of place and a story. Maybe to say, “It’s different here” and our products have an extra quality because of who we are and where we live. By bringing your own unique ingredients the soup gains a more complex and subtle flavor. If I was launching a new web site today for a business in Eugene I’d have a strip of logos at the bottom ala NASCAR. I’d have the state, and city mentioned. I’d have state regional and district logos. But I’d check first with each logo holder just to make sure. You should too.


Written by Mark Davis

Mark’s a Ginger Sasquatch who showed up in Eugene a decade ago and started instigating. He teamed up with a variety of folks to start things like the CodeChops, Elm Robotics, EugeneTech, EugeneMade, and Dark Matter. He’s super easy to find on social media or at The Barn Light on any given TechTuesday. Favorite community projects include Hack4Cause & Maker Faire. Coder by nature. Can’t really write; likes to contribute.

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