In early 2014, Port Houston initiated a renewed emphasis on its strategic planning and the recasting of its vision for the next 100 years. An important goal in this new strategic planning process was to grow and diversify the business base by developing a strong brand identity and to develop a proactive market development plan. Port Houston launched an extensive, national request for proposals (RFP) in 2015 and John Manlove Marketing & Communications (JMMC) was chosen as the firm to carry out the new branding campaign and launch in January of 2016.
JMMC worked from the Port’s established mission to, “Move the world and drive regional prosperity” and its vision to be “America’s distribution hub for the next generation”. Port Houston competes on the world stage against strong, smart competitors. To compete on this level means there must be absolute clarity on what Port Houston stands for today, what are their most important benefits and how can the Port position itself successfully for continued growth.
“It means being intentional on every level and being committed to making the community and the world marketplace aware of Port Houston and its unique benefits. We started this process with research – researching the internal organization, the local community and Port Houston’s customers,” said John Manlove.
The internal survey indicated that employees and leadership view the Port as competent, practical and trustworthy. The research also validated the Port’s corporate values of Respect, Excellence, Accountability and Diligence.
JMMC conducted a Harris County wide community research project for Port Houston. The community research was extremely encouraging and demonstrated a clear interest in more proactive communications from the Port. Here are a few highlights:
As the Port relates to local impact 72% of those surveyed are PROUD of the Port.
The Port connects commerce to Houston driving regional prosperity 76% favorability
The Port maintains the No.1 port on the U.S. Gulf Coast 73% favorable
The Port provides job opportunities to local residents 87% favorable
The Port gives back to local community 70% favorable
While the Port has a VERY favorable view by the community, results indicated that most have very little understanding of what the Port does. The research also indicated a desire for more regular communications regarding the Port and its objectives especially among the “millennials”.
JMMC also managed the customer research contacting Port users nationally and internationally with personal interviews. Surveying the major international customers told us that the Port is viewed as responsive to their needs as compared to their competition. And international customers understand the importance of access to the enormous Texas economy – now the 10th largest economy in the World.
Customers embraced stability of service as key and view the port as the Texas gateway and a keystone in the logistics supply chain.
“The findings indicate a solid foundation is in place to make the port even stronger and more marketable,” Chief Commercial Officer Ricky Kunz said.”This is a significant and exciting development that will lead to increased understanding of the port and its important role in international commerce,” Kunz said.”As an economic engine and job creator for more than a century, Port Houston adds value to the region, state and nation. And we will continue to expand our business.”
THE MARKETING PLAN IS COMPREHENSIVE
Gina Manlove said, “First, for branding to be sustainable it must be authentic and come from the top-down and the inside out, that means employee engagement and input. Much effort was placed on establishing communication channels and on educating all the staff and workers on the message and key benefits as it relates to customers and the community.”
The quantitative research along with qualitative interviews, performed by JMMC were used to determine the key elements of the branding strategy and to answer some of the following important questions: What is most important and has the most value to the target market? What are the key areas of dominance that the Port uniquely owns? How can we position the Port effectively against competitors? How can we better demonstrate and personify the Port’s advantages? What are the preferred methods of communication with the target markets?
NEW BRAND CREATIVE IDENTITY
While the new logo is only the “tip of the iceberg” of the comprehensive marketing plan, it does receive a lot of attention. One of the objectives of the new identity is to be memorable and legible in all its uses from billboard to business card. The new logo is also a meaningful reminder of Port Houston’s mission and vision and it communicates the Port’s key benefits.
Red, White and Blue – Reflects the Port’s Vision, “America’s distribution hub for the next generation”.
The bow of a ship – Reflects the Port’s Mission, “To move the world and drive regional prosperity”.
The Lone Star – Reflects “The International Port of Texas”, and the pride and associations that belong to Texas.
The International Port of Texas enforces our key message points as the largest Port on the Gulf Coast and the biggest Port in Texas and the only Port in Houston.
NEW PORT HOUSTON WEBSITE
Visit new website and brand at PortHouston.com