Editorial: Branding: a new beginning

The Columbia Valley recently announced a new brand to which it's received mixed reviews.

The annual celebration of the Columbia Valley Bullriding in the Rockies combined with Valley Appreciation Day is coming up this weekend and the new Columbia Valley brand has recently been released. Perfect timing for the promotion of the area to the hordes of visitors who will be arriving (barring any change in the 20+C forecast) and who, it turns out, may already regularly visit the valley but don’t think of it as a single geographical area a missed marketing opportunity that local stakeholders are hoping now will be corrected with the new logo developed by the leading marketing engagement agency Cult Collective.

According to the extensive branding and marketing research undertaken by Cult Collective (view the presentation summary here: http://wellsbusinesssolutions.ca/wp content/uploads/2016/07/July12_ColumbiaValley_CultPresentation.pdf), the marketable merits of the valley lie in the sense of relaxation it inspires and the combination of sun, snow, water and nature. As such, this led to the development of the valley’s new logo: a simple multi-coloured graphic combined with the tag line “It’s time to unwind.”

A lot of time and resources were poured into this concept and while the scope of the research, findings and conclusions are impressive, the new logo itself is receiving mixed reviews. With the tag line resembling a little too closely to that of Penticton & Wine Country (“Time to Breathe”) and the visual element missing any reference to the dramatic mountain landscape the Columbia Valley is known for, there are grounds for feeling that the end result might have fallen short of the desired effect but for whom? The new brand isn’t meant to cater to those who already live here and the competition that other nearby destinations present is stiff so carving out a new niche in the B.C.-Alberta tourism market has to be left to the pros. The new brand is a first step and time will tell how much staying power it holds.