What is special about Inland Bays oysters? Shellfish in the Chesapeake Bay and other parts of the country have distinctive qualities and taste, and so do Delaware Inland Bays’ oysters.
Now that Governor Jack Markell has signed legislation permitting limited shellfish aquaculture in the Inland Bays, the Sustainable Coastal Communities Initiative is facilitating a group of scientists, restaurateurs, branding specialists and oyster farmers to determine how to effectively market those oysters. A USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant will help fund efforts to explore the business potential for shellfish aquaculture.
Supporters of the aquaculture legislation, House Bill 160, estimate conservatively that shellfish aquaculture in the Inland Bays could realize gross income of more than $2.5 million per year, with a total economic impact of more than $6 million by only using one percent of the total bottom area of the Inland Bays. The benefits of a prosperous shellfish aquaculture market in Delaware go beyond profitability for restaurants and seafood markets. Oysters filter pollutants such as excess nitrogen and phosphorous from the water and will improve water quality in the Inland Bays. See the Center for the Inland Bays fact sheet below.
Branding experts with the Delaware creative intelligence firm of ab+c will lead efforts to brand the Inland Bays product. The firm expects to present its preliminary findings on brand identity in early December 2014, with a final product delivered by summer 2015.
“Our Inland Bays absolutely have qualities of providing excellent oysters,” John Ewart said during a September meeting of the branding group. He is an aquaculture specialist with the Delaware Sea Grant program and maintains the Delaware Aquaculture Resource Center.
June 2015 Update
The final report from a,b+c Creative Intelligence was presented to the steering committee, which included several logo design concepts. These exemplified a variety of typefaces, graphics, and brand architecture treatments. Ultimately, unique aspects from a couple of different logos were used to create a final product that resonated with the committee members. In addition, the completed brand tactics were introduced for discussion and consideration of implementation strategies. The contractor’s presentation follows:
March 2015 Update
The proposed brand architecture was reviewed by the steering committee at our March meeting with the a,b+c Creative Intelligence. The consultant researched and suggested a variety of umbrella brand names, product brand names and labeling names. The committee offered critical feedback that helped to determine which one will get built out as the brand identity. The audio/video recording of that meeting can be viewed by clicking on the link below.
December 2014 update
Results of the brand discovery phase were shared with the working group on December 3, 2014. Links to presentation and report from the meeting are provided below, or click on the image at right.
The goal is to deliver a “superior shellfish product” that will benefit a range of stakeholders – aquaculture farmers, restaurant owners, the tourism industry, visitors, foodies – and the Inland Bays themselves.
Overall conclusions presented in the report include:
- There is a consensus that the brand must be a premium oyster that appeals to consumers, that supports the local culinary and tourist markets, that supports the health of the Inland Bays and has the potential to succeed beyond local markets.
- The current competition ranges from Virginia to Canada, but the primary competition is Maryland, and especially, Virginia—particularly Chincoteagues.
- The positioning of the brand must initially focus on its local origin in Southern Delaware (but not so that it prevents marketing beyond Delaware.)
- The brand must succeed with growers, distributors and restaurateurs as well as with local and visiting consumers.
- Current names are primarily location-based, but often with additional descriptors, like “Salts.”
- While not widely expressed, it appears there is a strong desire among some to develop an Inland Bays umbrella brand, under which local watermen can market their own brands.