PORTER | The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is renewing its effort to market its brand, Superintendent Costa Dillon said Thursday at the Indiana Dunes Tourism Visitor Center.
“We think we have an exciting new opportunity for making the park more visible, alerting the public more clearly what the park is comprised of, and allowing our partners to generate some income off of this opportunity,” said Dillon.
“This is a confusing park and it has a lot of pieces all over the place with confusing names,” said Dillon noting that the national lakeshore comprises 30 miles in three counties and 14 cities and towns.
Dillon said people will not support the park if they do not understand what it is, and worse, safety issues may arise if people do not know where to send emergency help.
“You see highway signs for state park, state park, state park. Good luck finding the National Lakeshore. But we are working with INDOT and improving highway directional signs for the first time in the history of the park,” he said.
Another problem is that people confuse features of the park with the towns they are in, said Dillon.
“People often say the name of the town they’re in, like Beverly Shores or Portage, but that’s irrelevant. We think of it as the east side of the park, or the west side of the park, and we wanted to show logos and graphics that will identify the site, like the Century of Progress Homes or Portage Lakefront, with the name of the park,” he said, pointing out logos for each site which will be trademarked to prevent competition.
Dillon said they will be using the logos on promotional materials the park uses, including their website and items for sale as he motioned to a table displaying hats, coffee mugs, holiday ornaments, posters and beach bags.
“We do not generate income from our park the way the state park does — they generate a significant amount of income from their entrance fees, so we aren’t doing this because it increases income, that’s not the point,” Dillon said.
He said the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has tried to increase awareness of the park, such as cellphone tours and better signs. The new effort is another step in that direction.
Holding up items such as holiday ornaments and mugs produced by her company, Michele Kuder, representative with partner Eastern National, said, “They do sell quite nicely and it all comes back to the park."
Dillon noted that the items are produced and sold by a partner since the national park cannot sell items for profit.
Speros Batistatos, president of the Dunes National Park Association board, said, “One of the great things we can do is market, and that’s one of the things I know a little bit about given that I’m president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. We will license these items so we can make money for DNPA’s mission. ... We want to continue to advance this important cause and we are thrilled about what it happening here.”
“When people want a nice Christmas present, they will now have it,” Dillon said before introducing logo designers Katrina George and Jeff Manuszak who said there will be 29 designs when finished.