‘Decidedly Different’ is Saranac Lake’s new brand

Local pup Tubbs wears a T-shirt bearing Saranac Lake’s new brand on Thursday at Berkeley Green. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

SARANAC LAKE — Nearly 100 people gathered at Berkeley Green Thursday for the unveiling of the new village brand, “Decidedly Different,” accompanied by free ice cream and speeches by public officials.

“You know when water is really hot and it’s only at 211 degrees? What do you got? Just hot water. But hot water, when it goes up that one degree to 212, what do you get? You get boiling water. You get steam. Steam is energy. Steam is action,” Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau said. “Saranac Lake is full of people that give that one extra degree to make things happen. We’re that one degree extra push.”

In 2017 the village began working with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism to develop new branding. To this end, more than 200,000 ROOST-created surveys were distributed to four principal groups: travelers who have visited the village, travelers who have not visited the village, Saranac Lake residents and Adirondack residents. The survey received more than 4,000 respondents.

“We took the entire survey results and boiled it down to the brand statement,” said Jasen Lawrence, director of digital strategy for ROOST. “The community is very different from what we see in other places.”

Lawrence stressed that this difference is intentional on the part of the Saranac Lake community; hence the “Decidedly” in “Decidedly Different.” Lawrence said that the survey revealed locals and Saranac Lake second home owners stay, and want to stay, in-village because of two major draws.

The first is the urban oasis of downtown, Lawrence said, that is markedly different in its architecture from anywhere else in the Adirondacks. “That was done on purpose,” he said.

The second is the interconnected waterways that allow residents to paddle or motor their way from their homes to within walking distance of downtown. Lawrence stressed that nowhere else in the Adirondacks do the waterways offer that kind of accessibility to locals.

“It’s a push towards the Saranac Lake area being able to make a uniform statement about what we are,” said Rich Shapiro, village trustee and Saranac Lake Brand Panel member. “A common theme. And we’re not just one thing.”

But this brand was developed by ROOST — a nonprofit organization that specializes in tourism marketing. That begs the question: Is this marketing initiative only to draw in tourists?

“The way to think about this is when we’re talking about tourists and travel is how do we make life better for locals?” Lawrence said. In order to draw in tourists, life has to be made better for locals — because tourists want to see happy locals, according to Lawrence. So while the branding may appear to be focused on attracting tourists to Saranac Lake, he said “it’s for locals and tourists. The whole idea is to blend those.”

“Its good. It’s new,” said Saranac Lake resident Pete Donnelly. “It’s a fresh look.”

Donnelly said he was in favor of the new branding because of the mixed messages Saranac Lake has pushed over the decades, including being known as the “Little City in the Adirondacks,” “The Capital of the Adirondacks” and “The Green Side of the Big Apple,” among others.

“Everybody needs a fresh look every now and then,” Donnelly said. “And we just needed a fresh look.”

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