If you were told you had only one sentence — or more challenging still, just a single image, a logo or photo — to encapsulate the character and unique personality of Roswell … what would you say, or what image would you choose?
There’s the go-to alien, and for my money that’s not a bad choice, not bad at all. But if you begin to think about all the things that leaves out, all the aspects of the local culture it ignores, you can really begin to second-guess yourself.
At the end of the day, it’s a good problem to have — really more of a puzzle to solve.
Periodically we sit down with Mayor Dennis Kintigh in the Roswell Daily Record’s conference room for a question-and-answer session about what’s going on in and around Roswell. One thing I was curious about headed into the last interview: The city’s brand. How all the diverse elements making up Roswell can be brought together in one phrase, or crafted into a single logo.
I had been wondering about that since a story in the RDR back in September, which discussed the efforts of the city’s contracted marketing agency, Cubic Creative, to “get to know Roswell.” The agency spent time visiting with community groups and various departments within the city to begin work on a number of marketing-related tasks, including “unifying” the city’s brand. That seemed to me a tall task.
The mayor acknowledged when last we spoke with him that the marketing people had their work cut out for them, and referred to Roswell, with its multi-faceted character as a community, as “complex.”
That’s not a bad way of putting it. People seeing Roswell for the first time have a lot to choose from — many potential first impressions to sort through. If you drive into town from the east, from Texas, the pump jacks that signal to anyone (especially anyone arriving from Texas) the presence of oil and gas operations are maybe the first things noticed. I know on my first trip here, I was surprised by that — I thought of Roswell as a tourist-driven city and economy, without realizing what an integral role energy played.
The same could be said about the agriculture that’s perhaps the next thing people notice, the next thing that might surprise first-time visitors. Expectations of a trip to a desert community normally don’t include the “green” one encounters here. As someone who lived for years in a west Texas oilfield town, I can attest that not every Permian Basin community has that. Some don’t have trees.
A little exploration leads those interested to the dairies and other agricultural interests that might otherwise go unseen and unknown.
A little more exploration? Visitors uncover the arts and entertainment scene, the one explored in the Daily Record’s Vision section each week. Not only are the museums and other points of cultural interest available to residents and visitors alike on most days, it also seems there’s always something going on, in the form of a festival or special event.
So that’s a set of impressions someone might develop while traveling here, and after spending a little time in the city. But what got them headed in this direction to begin with?
Well it varies, but certainly for many, we’re back to that go-to alien. The reported 1947 crash and all that’s grown up around it — including the local tourist trade — in the decades since.
People come here from places that have their own signature events and cultural touchstones, but unless they’re part of a pretty select group, they didn’t come here from a place with an (alleged) UFO crash site. At the very least, it puts Roswell on the radar of a lot of folks, making it a tremendous asset.
Many places scramble to find just one “hook” when it comes to presenting themselves to the world. Though it perplexes people, might sometimes even create competition among various groups, Roswell’s fortunate to have so many possibilities. Fortunate, that is, until it comes time to make choices related to “unifying” a brand.
But that’s what marketing professionals are for.
John Dilmore is editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are those of the author.