Council Embraces ‘Western’ To ‘Cool Mountain Town’ Slogan

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Out with the old. In with the cool.

On Thursday, the Payson council saddled up a new slogan designed to round up as many Valley residents as possible. Or maybe, come to think of it, they pumped up the tires on the oh so cool mountain bike of publicity.

Henceforth Payson is … drum roll ...

Arizona’s Cool Mountain Town.

That new “branding” slogan will replace: “A Mountain Town with a Western Heritage.”

The old slogan, adopted by the previous council soon after the town’s 124th anniversary, tried to combine mountain themes with a whiff of cowboys and the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo.

But Tourism and Economic Vitality Director Cameron Davis said the preferences of some 80,000 visitors to the town’s new tourism Web site and the results of an online survey of nearly 1,000 people convinced him it’s time for a change.

“What promise are we making to our target audience?” asked Davis of the town’s western heritage brand.

“To my chagrin, the only thing about Payson that lends itself to being western is the rodeo.”

He said that the 10,000 people visiting the Web page every month each spend about five minutes on the site and check out about five screens. More than 70 percent of the people checking out the Web site live in Arizona — with the Valley accounting for the overwhelming majority.

The most popular page on the site is about “mountain recreation,” with 17,000 views. The next most popular pages involve trails, events, accommodations, camping and other outdoor recreation topics. The page about the rodeo came in far down the list.

Nearly 1,000 people filled out a survey about how they view Payson. Of those, 82 percent picked descriptions that revolved around outdoor reaction, the mountains and the lower temperatures. About one-third picked as the best description “a cool mountain town,” said Davis. Davis said the town needs a short, memorable slogan that plays to its strengths with Valley residents — which means stressing the mountains and the temperature.

However, Councilor Ed Blair said the proposed “cool mountain town” slogan had upset KRIM radio, because a competing Flagstaff radio station uses the slogan “cool mountain rodeo.”

“I like the idea of being cool. I like the idea of mountain,” said Blair. But he wanted a slogan that separated the words “cool” and “mountain.”

So he proposed: “Cool R & R in our mountains.” But the idea didn’t go far with the rest of the council.

“I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls,” said Councilor Su Connell. She said she did her own survey and found few Payson residents knew the old slogan. Then she surveyed a dozen Valley residents to find out what they thought of Payson. They all fumbled for descriptions that included words like cool, pine trees, Rim, mountains, laid back.

She said she treasured the town’s rich history, but “in order to add money to our coffers, we need to appeal to those five million people in the Valley — which pretty soon will be 15 million.”

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