Overlapping brands a concern in Spud Valley 

Tourism Pemberton hopeful Squamish avoids 'adventure' as rebranding project continues

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CLARE OGILVIE - highway hello Pemberton's new welcome sign was installed along Highway 99 last month.
  • photo by clare ogilvie
  • highway hello Pemberton's new welcome sign was installed along Highway 99 last month.

Thanks to a newly installed sign on Highway 99, the Village of Pemberton now has a, larger, more southerly and modern-looking marker welcoming visitors to the Spud Valley.

The wood sign sits just south of the Green River Motocross Park, more accurately indicating the village boundary as travellers head north towards Pemberton. The sign includes the village's logo, as well as Pemberton's long-used slogan: "Adventure Begins Here."

"It makes for a welcoming presence when someone arrives in Pemberton," said Tourism Pemberton president David MacKenzie. "That's been on our radar for a while, and finally the project became a reality."

Now, the hope is that the District of Squamish chooses a slogan for its new Highway 99 welcome signs that doesn't overlap with Pemberton's.

Squamish is currently undergoing a rebranding process that will update the district's tourism marketing message, as the current tagline of "Outdoor Recreation Captial of Canada" will be replaced. So far, that project has identified a brand promise that also centres on the theme of adventure.

MacKenzie said that "it would be a little bit of a concern" if Squamish also branded itself around "adventure," particularly as Pemberton has been using its current slogan and branding since 2005.

"I would hope that Squamish would take a serious look at (going a different direction), seeing as we adopted that brand some time ago and have been consistently using it for a solid 10 years," said MacKenzie. "I remember at the time we were going through the exercise (to rebrand Pemberton in 2005), the word 'recreation' came up a lot as well, but right away we identified... that Squamish was using 'Recreation Captial.'

"We... wanted to be able to stay away from what somebody else was already using."

MacKenzie also noted that Tourism Pemberton revisited the brand earlier this year in consultation with Destination B.C., and determined that no change was needed.

Squamish's rebranding project is being spearheaded by consultant Roger Brooks and a Brand Development Committee (BDC) comprised of district officials and local tourism stakeholders. In an April presentation, Brooks presented the findings of more than 1,100 surveys community members returned on the topic. The result was a brand promise that stated: "The world's most epic adventures can be found right here."

Brooks also presented preliminary, draft marketing materials, such as billboards and social media campaigns, that used an "adventure" theme.

Randy Stoyko, Squamish's general manager of community and business services, and a member of the BDC, cautioned that the rebranding project is still a work in progress.

"A lot of these things are in draft. I think what (Brooks) was putting forth were concepts for the community as much as anything else," said Stoyko.

"Where it lands is yet to be determined, for sure."

Stoyko also noted that officials in Squamish want to be cognizant of the community's feedback when it comes to developing a new brand.

"For a small place like Squamish — 17,000-odd people — to have over 1,100 surveys turned in is off the hook," he said. "So I think we've been trying to be respectful of what was stated in those (surveys.)"

The district is now assembling a Brand Leadership Team that will help finalize and then champion Squamish's new brand direction.

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