Branding survey validity questioned

To the Editor:

I am concerned about the Town of Friday Harbor’s branding survey for reasons that call the survey’s validity into question.


1st, the questionnaire offers ample opportunity to complete it as many times as a reader likes and make things up along the way. I filled it out twice and assume I could keep at it ad infinitum. Since the survey is anonymous, I would probably lie about my age.

So it looks easy to stack the data to skew the results, which in turn renders the outcome useless. Let’s say hypothetically that 10 County residents think “eco-tourism” on a grand scale would be a moneymaker. If each one did the survey 10 times, we would have a compelling assortment of corrupt information.

2nd, the survey may be completed by anyone on any of the islands or anywhere else. Living in the Town of Friday Harbor doesn’t lend your views any more weight than would be given to someone from Lopez or Seattle.

3rd, the survey wants gender and age but not occupation or any other demographic information. Why?

4th, respondents are told not to include “the people” as a strength because everybody knows that. Ditto “the people” and “local politics” for the answers on FH negatives. What?! Anybody reading some of the County blogs? Some locals are sick of tourists and believe there are too many of them. The branders should want to know this.

5th, the survey needed professional help. “Survey Monkey,” limitations governed the design too much. This is not a good survey even for purposes that are not fiendishly rigorous.

The entire branding idea (justifiably in my opinion) may be sliding into obscurity. Look at where we live. Do we really need branding? But if we are going to persist, here is what I would say: If we want more tourist money, offer more products and services visitors want or need. Ease up on local businesses. Don’t make it torture to make a living here. Remember the People. And quit trying to force Friday Harbor into a preconceived mold such as “eco-tourism.”

Allowing myself one small slogan that has great implications, I offer this: “Friday Harbor – where we don’t speak for the fish; we go fishing. Join us!”

Janice Peterson

San Juan Island

back to top