What color do you think of when you think of Phippsburg? Or Bowdoinham? Or Bath? Or Topsham? Or Brunswick? Or Harpswell? Is it the same color for each?

What symbols do you think make our region unique? We have world-class destinations, resorts, lighthouses, beaches, shopping, breweries and restaurants. Our communities are builders: from ships to handmade crafts, to clothing, to roadways, to bridges and buildings. Our rocky coastline makes every picture look like a postcard, only matched by the four-season beauty of our historical downtowns.

We are salt air, and hiking trails, and one of the first states to see the sunrise, with an unforgettable backdrop for sunsets. I wrote in the welcome to our 2021 Chamber guide, “the sign on the way in says, ‘Maine: The Way Life Should Be’ and that’s what we try to live by. We’re kind, hard-working, respectful of land and each other…we tend to attract those that that respond well to those values too.” But, what does that look like?

What do you call a region comprised of 16 communities, containing thousands of businesses in hundreds of industries ranging from handmade craftsmen to high-tech manufacturing? Well, we don’t know, but we hope to have an answer once our chamber completes our re-branding process — and you can help!

Let’s start here: If I offered you $100, could you name our chamber of commerce in five seconds or less? The Bath-Brunswick Chamber? The Midcoast Maine Chamber? The Southern Coastal Maine Chamber of Commerce? Nope.

For the last 15 years, we’ve been the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber. It’s a long name, which isn’t great, but more importantly, it’s a vague name. Try this exercise.

Take out a map of Maine and ask three people you know to circle on the map, the Southern Midcoast region. The three circles will be different, and likely, very different. The problem with the name is it doesn’t get anchored to a specific municipality or feature. If that doesn’t seem true, take out a map of Florida and mark the Southern Midcoast area. How can you be confident you circled the right area of Florida?

Side note: In case you do this exercise with a map of Maine, the SMMC represents businesses doing business in the following communities: Bath, Brunswick, Harpswell and Topsham, as well as, Arrowsic, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Dresden, Edgecomb, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Richmond, West Bath, Westport Island, Wiscasset and Woolwich.

How did we get this name?

It’s a bit of a long story, but very briefly, there used to be a Brunswick Chamber and a Bath Chamber and they merged into the Bath-Brunswick Chamber. In the mid-2000s, they wanted to change the name to be representative of a larger region and opted for The Midcoast Chamber of Commerce. After filing the paperwork with the state, other communities in Maine who consider themselves to be in the Midcoast got very upset, and thus less than a year later our Chamber changed again to the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.

Why are we re-branding?

Honestly, we need a fresh look, with an updated logo and a more representative name. If the perfect name existed we would already have it, but unlike other regions that have widely recognized regional names — like Kennebec Valley in the Augusta/Hallowell area — our region does not. To my knowledge, the only other organization that uses the Southern Midcoast moniker is the CareerCenter based in Brunswick. Additionally, we are a much different chamber then what we were when the merger first occurred, and a new name and a new brand will only help attract people to our region and recognize that change.

Here is how you can help and a couple of things to keep in mind.

First off, our marketing team has already released a poll to our chamber members asking for their feedback including some of the questions listed at the top of this article, like what colors and images represent this region.

Secondly, our timeline is that we would like to introduce the new name and branding at the 2022 Annual Awards Dinner in March, which seems like far away but really isn’t. We need to get all of the community feedback to our creative designers on the marketing team so they can present options to the Board of Directors this fall. We may want to even do a naming poll with the communities if we can’t decide on a best name. Starting the re-branding process now allows us time for all of that. We hope to have a decision internally by the beginning of 2022, to give us two months to prepare our website and all chamber pieces with the new logos, fonts, images, etc. once the change is officially announced.

Lastly, if you have ideas for the committee to consider, please e-mail them to me at [email protected]

Your suggestions can be for a color you like, a name you like, an image you like or anything really. We understand that we have a very diverse region with diverse viewpoints, and we won’t be able to cater to every viewpoint, but do know all input will be considered. Of course, if there are numerous suggestions for the same colors, name or images, we’ll have to add more weight to those suggestions.

A few things to keep in mind

– With 16 communities we cannot name them all in our title — and some municipalities may feel slighted by that — however, using community names or specific a geographic feature will be important in differentiating for tourists where we are located in the state

– Other regional chamber names are: York Region, Bethel Area, Greater Portland Regional, Bangor Region, PenBay Chamber, Mid-Maine Chamber, Greater Bridgton, Kennebec Valley, Franklin County, and Katahdin Area to name a few. All tackle this regional problem differently.

– Color suggestions can be more than one; if you suggest multiple colors, let us know which is the primary color and which is secondary.

Cory King is the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.

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