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What's The Value Of The Mt. Hood Inc. Brand?


This week we’ve been looking at the economic impact of Mt. Hood, in a series we’re calling Mt. Hood Inc. We’ve asked what business the mountain is in, and how many jobs it creates.

But as a good marketing executive will tell you — a business is only as good as its brand.

So, Kristian Foden-Vencil asks: What is the mountain’s brand? What is that brand worth? And, what do you get out of it?


Kristian Foden-Vencil: “So I’m flicking through the Yellow Pages to find companies that have Mt. Hood in their name. Here we go. There’s a whole page of them, packed in together. It starts with Mt. Hood Adult Day Center and ends up with Mt. Hood Seed Company Incorporated.  Wow, it’s not exactly what you’d call an exclusive brand. There’s everything from chemical companies to asphalt paving businesses trying to conjure up the mountain to secure your business. Anyway, let’s try, how about the Mt. Hood Pet Resort in Sandy.”




Trina Reed Holer: “Mt. Hood Pet Resort. Trina speaking.”

Trina Reed Holer has owned her business for the last five years. She looks after her customer’s pets while they’re on vacation. She’ll also groom your pooch or let you do-it-yourself. But why did she incorporate Mt. Hood into the name?

Trina Reed Holer: “Well, we live out in Sandy Oregon which is the gateway to Mt. Hood.”

Kristian Foden-Vencil: “And how much thought did you give to the name of the business? Because there are a lot of Mt. Hood businesses around.”

Trina Reed Holer: “We originally were going to do Mt. Hood Doggy Daycare, but that limited us so we did Mt. Hood Pet Resort. But we knew as we are in the gateway of Mt. Hood that Mt. Hood was going to be in our name.”

It makes sense.

But I wanted to check in with a marketing professional, to find out what it is that Mt. Hood’s brand brings to the table. What do people associate with it? How do people feel when they see the mountain in a logo or the name on a company sign?

Jennifer Huckins: “Well, it means, this is where we come from. It’s Oregon. It’s the pin in the map that places us. And that represents usually outdoors, freshness, Northwest attitude, a little bit environmental.”

Jennifer Huckins is a freelance creative director in Portland. She’s worked on all kinds of brands, from Nike to Umpqua Bank. She deals with an average of one business a year that wants to use the mountain in some fashion.

Why? Well companies want to be associated with wilderness, freshness and Northwest attitude. And, it doesn’t hurt the brand is free.

Jennifer Huckins: “A simple logo can go anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 if you’re doing it for a local company and you’re a friend. Or it can go anywhere up to $50,000 for a logo.And that’s just the mark.”

A mark is the logo. It’s short for trademark.

Jennifer Huckins: “So let’s say you have $100,000 to get your mark out there. That’s very small amount of money. If you had $500,000 you’d be hitting the local market pretty well. That’s just the local market. So then it just goes onto how many people you want to reach to get that logo as recognizable as Mt. Hood. But I would think it would cost an awful lot of money. As a matter of fact, probably more money than I could fathom.”

Kristian Foden-Vencil: “Several million dollars?”

Jennifer Huckins: “Yeah. I would think so.”

But how does the Mt. Hood brand compare to other commercial brands? What other brand has the same kind of reach?

Jennifer Huckins: “Let’s say Patagonia.”

That’s Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company.

Jennifer Huckins: “Patagonia is one word. It brings up certain images for you about a vast wonderful land and protecting it and using it. And then there’s that little logo they use which is just a mountain range and a funny little rainbow of colors. And I don’t know how much that company is worth, but when I think of Mt. Hood and it’s use, I would associate it with something like Patagonia.”

The apparel company had revenues of $400 million last year, but Patagonia’s public relations department didn’t want to comment on any similarity to Mt. Hood.

So that’s one aspect of the brand. But as an Oregon resident, does the brand offer any benefits to you? Can you benefit from an association with Mt. Hood Inc.?

Well, you get a direct benefit if you have a view of the mountain from home.

Reed College economics professor, Noelwah Netusil, says a 1998 study out of Bellingham looked into how that view translates into cold, hard cash.

Noelwah Netusil: “And when they looked at the effect of having a mountain view, their best guess was that it increased sales price by around eight percent.”

So, if the average cost for a Portland home is $250,000, the view would account for about $20,000 of the cost.

Let’s put that in context. According to Netusil, living near a park would add $40,000 to the cost of that same home. And the presence of a big old tree on the street — $7,000.

I know, I know. You had to pay for that tree, that view, that whatever.

But that breathtaking image of the mountain— that we sometimes take for granted as we ‘round a bend in the road— does that have a quantifiable value?

Rick Acosta is with the Forest Service. He says anyone taking pictures of the mountain for a business, needs a permit. And that permit can cost anywhere from $100 for a still photograph, to $850-a-day for a full film crew.

Rick Acosta: “The one that most people are familiar with of course is ‘The Shining.’ Where part of it was filmed up at Timberline Lodge. And we get a lot of requests for commercials. Car ads. Jeep ads, those kinds of things.”

The money goes to the Forest Service, to help tend to the mountain.

Here’s another way of looking at what the brand is worth to state residents.

Mt. Hood’s brand is closely linked to Oregon’s brand, and to Portland’s.

And all those green businesses that keep popping up in Oregon, are here at least in part because of the environmental image that goes along with the mountain.

Susan Bladholm recruits businesses to greater Portland using the local brand.

Susan Bladholm: “We’re very smart about ensuring that we can have a strong economy while also making sure that we’re preserving and honoring the environment.”

She says it’s a bit of a balancing act.

Susan Bladholm: “And I do think we really do it very well in terms of being able to win on both counts.”

So if you work for a business with an environmental bent, or for one of those businesses listed in the yellow pages with Mt. Hood in the name, you might want to give the mountain a nod of appreciation next time it peeks its head out of the clouds.


Next, the final piece in our series, Mt. Hood Inc. will look into how the mountain’s economic impact compares to other Oregon businesses.