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St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport rolls out new brand

With the help of Mark Dillman and Donald Pollock III of Thomas Sign & Awning Co., aloft in a bucket truck, a new sign in front of St. Pete-Clearwater International is unveiled Tuesday.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

With the help of Mark Dillman and Donald Pollock III of Thomas Sign & Awning Co., aloft in a bucket truck, a new sign in front of St. Pete-Clearwater International is unveiled Tuesday.

CLEARWATER — St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport has a new brand that's as easy as PIE.

PIE is the airport's three-letter designation, and the centerpiece of the new name, logo and slogan that was unveiled on Tuesday: St. Pete-Clearwater International (PIE).

The new slogan — "Tampa Bay the Easy Way" — partners with a new blue and green logo that emphasizes the three-letter PIE designation, with the "I" being depicted by a stylized palm tree. The name was also shortened to St. Pete-Clearwater International. The word "airport" was replaced with a cutout of a jetliner.

"Our name is shortened from a big mouthful to something as simple as St. Pete-Clearwater International," airport director Noah Lagos said. "This is something similar to what the (convention visitor's bureau) did when it shortened its name to Visit St. Pete-Clearwater.

"If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us."

The airport started out as Pinellas County Army Air Field in 1941, became the Pinellas International Airport in 1957 and then St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport the next year. But it hasn't had a new logo since 1976.

The new brand was designed to emphasize the airport's main business (leisure travel) and its top selling point (convenient, low-cost, nonstop flights) to its main customer base (Tampa Bay residents). Many airports around the country are also moving to emphasize their three-letter designations, Lagos said.

"PIE is easy to market; it's marketing friendly," he said. "When you search for tickets on Expedia.com or Kayak.com, we want to be able to have this brand identification."

Those airport codes are assigned by the International Air Transport Association. The system was started in the 1940s to make it easy for everyone — pilots, air traffic controllers, baggage handlers — to identify airports. Tampa International Airport, for example, is TPA, even though in the bay area TIA is more commonly used.

The new PIE brand was created by the airport in conjunction with FKQ Advertising + Marketing firm of Clearwater at a cost of $37,000. Starting today, the airport will roll out a $70,000, 90-day marketing campaign that will involve buses, billboards and print media.

"It's targeted at the height of tourist season," Lagos said.

The airport, which has an annual budget of $9 million, also unveiled two new 20-foot-tall lighted monuments that will display the new logo outside the airport's entrance along Roosevelt Boulevard.

Lagos unveiled the new brand to the Pinellas County Commission in the airport's terminal on Tuesday, then held a news conference for the local media and more than 100 dignitaries.

"It's a significant evolution for the branding of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport focusing in on the leisure market," said Pinellas County Commission Chairman Ken Welch. "It's fresh, it's updated and I think it really captures what the regional airport is all about."

St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport rolls out new brand 02/12/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 9:25pm]

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