April 15, 2011

The City of Whitehorse. Branded.

To All Whitehorse Residents:

I have to give credit to the City of Whitehorse.  They were told that they needed to develop new branding for the city and they've embarked on that process.

It's hard to capture the essence of a city like Whitehorse through a brand, especially when it isn't clear what the branding is supposed to achieve.  Is it a rallying cry for city employees?  A badge of pride for current residents?  An enticement for potential residents as a place to live?  An enticement for investors as a place to invest and do business?

While the debate rages about the proposed logo, I'd like to focus in on the City's tag-line - something that ultimately affects the visual branding that the city uses.

The City of Whitehorse is often referred to as "The Wilderness City".  Perhaps a great tag line at first blush, but who does it really appeal to beyond locals and tourists?  The idea of living in a wilderness city is appealing to many, but I could think of a dozen other cities that could make similar claims.   It also implies that Whitehorse is all "bush" - that we are lacking in amenities.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Why would we downplay the incredible services that we have?

The city has also used "Striving for Excellence".  It's a great internal mission and could be considered a call to action for city residents - but what does it imply to people from elsewhere?  That we're below par?  That's we're not good enough to be considered "excellent"? That's not a good message for potential residents and investors.  We're not below par, so why would we imply that?

The Ontario firm that was hired to develop the new brand has proposed "Above all Expectations".  Ooh, clever.  It plays up the whole "We're north of 60 so we're above most other places" thing.   It taps into that whole north vs. south thing that tickles the pleasure centres of people from Outside.  And it's true that anyone who has visited Whitehorse will say that the city exceeded their expectations.  But for anyone who has never been to Whitehorse, the tag line is... well... generic.  Bland.  Without any real substance.  It just doesn't mean much.  "Above all Expectations" falls far below my expectations.

So, how does one capture the great lifestyle we enjoy, the tremendous business and investment opportunities that are available, and the joys of having a wilderness playground at our doorstep? I'd like to propose a fourth option for the city's new tag-line - one that I believe will appeal to residents, prospective residents, tourists, and investors alike.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration, my proposed tag-line is...

"Wild Opportunities"


Sarah N said...

That makes me think of what happens at Bombay Peggy's on a summer Saturday night

Anonymous said...

Not really buying it Michael. Wild suggests frontier mentality and does not add the level of sophistication that Whitehorse and "THE" Yukon (another bone to pick there..I digress) desperately need.

The thing about this branding exercise that bugs me is that is it once again more resistance to change. The world is changing, our demographic and ethnic make-up is changing...let's try to keep up. Don't get me wrong, I love the bush, wilderness and small town feel, but come on Whitehorse, we are bigger and more progressive than a paddlewheeler. The city has tried to do something to keep up to the times, (not get ahead of it relative to our competition...we are barely keeping up) and the flack they are getting is not right. I say keep the wilderness wild, but develop the crap out of the city (with reasonable greenspace, parks - infill is not the solution either!). I can't wait to develop the entire extent of the Downtown it up I say.

So not a huge fan of "wild", or any of the others for that matter, but what is more important is that we pick something, get behind it, believe in it and it will be successful. It has to resonate with Yukoners but please lets just move on. We will always have the Gold Rush....but lets add something innovative to the mix.

dogsled_stacie said...

LOL Sarah!!!

Use your imagination and there are a plethora of logo designs that we could come up with! And maybe then we could ditch the antiquated sternwheeler and the super-imaginative white horse.

Murray said...

The sternwheeler may not be perfect, but a horse is just ridiculous - it says nothing at all about Whitehorse (nor does the Ontario guy's tagline). It's not about resistance to change, "anonymous", it's about resistance to change for no sake. This is just more of government pissing away your money for no good reason.

Scientific Chick said...

Who needs a fancy Ontario firm when your very own citizens are so clever? Your city should just have held a public forum, Parks 'n' Rec style.

Nemmy said...

Nothing could be worse that "Ottawa: Technically Beautiful"...