Miraculously, a total of eight area residents who entered the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation's recent "Brand the Payson Region" came up with the competition's third-highest vote-getter.
Second place, with nine votes, went to a real dark horse, "Arizona Mountain Jewel."
But the judges' first-place choice, with a whopping 11 nominations, went to those Arizona Rim country locals who scoured their imaginations to dream up drum roll, please "Arizona Rim Country."
"Obviously, people are already pretty attached to 'The Rim Country' as the Payson brand," said Scott Flake, the contest's organizer and promoter, as well as director of the PREDC.
The contest was the first of four Branding Committee project phases to create what Flake calls "a community personality or a consistent image that represents our region."
The second phase will take the form of a brainstorming workshop conducted by facilitators from APS, along with several community representatives and leaders all of whom will mull over the top contenders and select the brand they believe will best help the community to develop a marketable identity.
Stage No. 3 will involve market testing, and the last will be the implementation of the brand into the town's promotional materials, souvenirs and physical image.
No matter who came up with the idea that becomes the Payson's official brand name, their prize will be the knowledge and pride that their brainstorm was selected.
The winners of the actual prizes, selected in a random drawing Dec. 14, were Jan Parsons of Payson, who picked up a 2001 World Series commemorative baseball, and Angela Lyons of Fountain Hills, who scored a $50 Wal-Mart gift certificate.
Although one of the top three suggested entries are likely to get the final nod from the branding Committee, Flake said that there are other submitted suggestions not yet out of the running.
Those include "Islands in the Forest Adventures in Tranquility," with 19 votes; "Where the Desert Meets the Forest," which garnered 15 votes; "Rim Country Come Up to the Good Life," with 14 votes; "Arizona's Rim Country Paradise in the Pines" 10 votes; "Wilderness Playground," 8 votes; "Ponderosa Pines (largest in the world)," 7; and "Everything That is Arizona," 5.
One telling clue that "the Rim country" is already a well-accepted brand name for, well, the Rim country, was that the vast majority of the entries contained either the word "Rim" or the words "Rim Country." Such as "Rim Country: Progress Now, History Later"; "The Gateway to Rim Country (Home of the Friendliest People and the Cleanest Air in America"); "Fill Your Life to the Brim on the Rim!"; "Rim Country's Blooming Come Grow with Us!"; and "Rims and Rainbows."
Among other suggestions ejected from the possibility barrel were "Arizona's Zane Grey Territory"; "Payson: Rising Arizona"; "The Heart of Arizona, the Edge of Heaven"; "Make a Beeline to Payson"; "The Small Town with a Big Heart"; "Heart of the Old Rodeo"; and "Payson: the Heart of Arizona, the Soul of the West."
There were, too, submissions by folks who possess either a healthy sense of humor, a somewhat different view of the area than the vast majority of entrants, or marketing ideas that are light years ahead of their time.
Imagine telling your out-of-state friends and relatives that you reside in "Javelina Heaven," "Home of the Mogollon Monster," or "Rim Country: Atmosphere and Antlers."