MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 17, 2013

Consultant touts ‘Warrior City’ brand

Chamber figures say selection not yet made in plan to promote city

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A consultant hired to create a brand for Muskogee said his top choice is “Warrior City.”

It is one of several themes being considered, said a top chamber executive.

Treasure McKenzie, the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce’s president and chief executive officer, said a final decision hasn’t been made.

She said ideas that have been discussed include music, gardening, medieval times and touting Muskogee as a “festival city.”

The decision will not be made without ample consideration, she said.

“Whichever brand we choose will take a considerable amount of commitment, effort and funds to achieve and so will be considered carefully before a final decision is made,” McKenzie said.

The consultant’s proposal will be presented to the chamber’s board in February, she said.

The consultant, Roger Brooks of Destination Development International, said Wednesday that he would recommend “Warrior City” for Muskogee because of the spirit that so much of the city embraces.

Being strong, fighting for a special cause, bravery and endurance are some of the things the brand is meant to convey, he said.

The USS Batfish submarine conveys the bravery of its crew during World War II. Bacone College is a 124-year-old school whose teams are The Warriors.

Muskogee has been host to numerous 5K events and many fundraisers for those suffering from such illnesses as breast cancer, diabetes and more, he said.

Muskogee also is a place where veterans come to heal, and the Castle of Muskogee is host to many events — particularly the Renaissance Festival, celebrating the era of noble knights, he said.

But branding isn’t a magical, roll-out-the-logo process, Brooks said. It could take years for Muskogee to become known as Warrior City or any other brand that is ultimately chosen.

Brooks’ proposal will suggest the city should start the process by trying to attract events that fit the warrior theme.

“Maybe we can start attracting Warrior events, whether they are ‘Wounded Warrior’ events or 5K runs for breast cancer or diabetes,” he said. “We create a theme and host a series of events to show what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Brooks said 2012 was the “coming up with a brand” year, 2013 is the getting ready year and 2014 will be when the city actually sees events beginning to happen.

“This has been in the works for a year,” he said. “And when we’re talking about this scale of a project, you can’t just say: ‘Here’s a plan. See ya later.’”

Instead, Brooks’ company is doing extensive research on his ideas, including building a major attraction around the brand to attract what could someday be thousands of visitors.

“What could we build for $50 million that creates hundreds of jobs, that creates jobs outside of the park too, like hotels and restaurants,” he said. “What can we do to get people to drive eight hours to come stay in Muskogee?”

Jim Eaton, the chamber’s past chairman, said it was too soon to be sure the theme will be “Warrior City.”

“A tremendous amount of public input is still needed before a decision is made,” he said. “This is one consultant’s recommendation that we haven’t seen a complete presentation on at this time, so there hasn’t been a decision made.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.