Courtesy of BOB OSWALD/Livingston County Chamber of Commerce
Kat Nichols left a colorful mark on local marketing
By Lisa Burns | Livingston County Tourism Director
Looking back at the very first day I started my new job as Livingston County Tourism Director I remember distinctly hearing the name Kat Nichols. It sounded like a really ‘cool’ name. I liked the sound of the name. It flowed!
My somewhat vivid imagination conjured up an image, based on knowing that this ‘Kat’ was our visitor’s guide graphic designer and had been for many years. She was going to enter the Chamber of Commerce, all sleek, ‘artsy,’ confident and proud.
After all, she had years of knowledge under her belt about this lovely county and how to best convey it to visitors in both picture and print. And, in my opinion, she’d done a very fine job. I’d looked through all the previous guides in our archives.
The guides, 16 in all, were all different yet somehow very similar from year to year. They featured, in crisp imagery by mostly Adrian “Bud” Prince, our county’s stunning landscapes, our rich cultural heritage and the people and events that make us truly Americana.
I also clearly understood that these guides had been created by the same person. It was obvious…they carried a theme. I thought that was conscience. A ‘branding’ of a sort.
Enter Kat! My imagination oftentimes runs over the top and yes, it somewhat did with Kat. But not totally. When we first met she was shy almost, down to earth, somewhat soft-spoken and had a nervous giggle; however, when we began talking, in earnest, about the visitor’s guide she changed.
Ah, there was the confidence and the pride. She wore it and she was ready for the next chapter. She’d been thinking about it and came, ready to dig in. We made a plan and before I knew it, she’d marshaled me through the first Livingston County Visitor’s Guide I’m proud to have been part of.
It was her 11th and despite my best attempts to ‘change things up a bit’ and give it some of ‘my’ personality, it was “Kat’s Guide” and, that was as it should have been. She was the one who really knew how best to capture our image and our heart.
Segué to the next year and that’s when the fun began. I’d had a year under my belt and I had ideas, strong ones. So did Kat! It was an adventure. Two creative and passionate people. One who’s many years of capturing Livingston County images was solidly in place and another’s whose tourism industry knowledge wanted to re-create and enter a new era.
We challenged each other; we both tried our hardest to think differently. Days we walked away in frustration, other’s we saw the glimmer of hope and after all was said and done, Livingston County’s 2006 Visitors Guide was honored with the Bronze Award from the New York State Office of Economic Development Tourism Division.
The award recognized visitors guides that, through images, words and marketing appeal most effectively promote counties as travel destinations.
I was so proud and I know Kat was proud too. She even came with me to the award presentation. Kat didn’t like crowds I’d found out, but she came to this, that’s how I really knew she was proud.
Kat deserved that honor far more than I did. She’d put her heart into all the previous guides, she’d created the ‘brand’ for our county, she’d found every image or sent Bud out to find it, she’d altered text, aligned color, showcased events and passionately protected all that was good about who we are as a hospitable county eager to embrace visitors.
Kat Nichols brought Livingston County to the eyes of the travelling public. Kat knew our county well, from this one project to all the many others she worked on for companies in the county.
She was our county’s graphic designer for many years and the beauty of her contribution to our county is that her visions, in many forms will always be part of our history. Gotta love a ‘Kat’s Passion.’
To see an image of every visitors guide cover that Kat created for our county go to the tourism Facebook page.