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Emphasizing the real Whistler

Tourism Whistler launches new resort brand

Whistler. Always real.

With those words Tourism Whistler finally unveiled the new brand for the resort – a project more than two years in the making.

Organization president Barrett Fisher said work had been consistently going on, but it wasn’t until a local company, Origin Design and Communications, got involved that the search for a resort identity came to an end.

What they saw was not just the great skiing, mountain biking and other recreation activities available in Whistler. They saw the spirit of adventure and fun inside each person who comes to the resort to get away from it all and those who have made Whistler their life.

Whistler is "about the moments that are in between the recreation," said Danielle Kristmanson of Origin during a video shown at the brand launch this week at the Telus Conference Centre.

"It’s about those perfect unstaged, unscripted moments that we are trying to capture in the creation of this brand.

"Whistler is a place where everyone expects the perfect vacation but what we're trying to convey is that Whistler is so much more, you get these real experiences, real people, real adventures."

Each one of the ads that Tourism Whistler will run in a multitude of media over the coming months and years will feature the tag line and real people – not models – in the pictures.

Each photograph will have a date, time and location of the shot. No names will be included as it was decided that keeping it anonymous would let those looking at the ads feel like they could be the person in the picture.

And the majority of the pictures will be in black and white.

Tourism Whistler felt this was a key way to keep their message authentic. In previous years the ads for the resort pictured perfectly groomed runs, or fresh powder and azure blue skies. But as everyone knows only some of the days in the resort are truly like that.

"One of the beauties of Whistler is that it is a big mountain environment," said Fisher. "It is big weather, and we are trying to show the authentic experience. It might be raining in the valley but you might get three feet of powder at the top of the mountain and you will get no experience like it anywhere else. So it really is about being authentic to who we are and not trying to pretend that we are always those bluebird days."

Gordon Ross, a single property owner who lives in Vancouver was concerned about using black and white.

"I think it is a good idea having something that will stand out from the competition," he said.

"However, I am concerned that maybe we are losing a very powerful impact. Colour is very powerful and I also think colour is a more real way of looking at things and I think the colours that we have to offer here, with the blues and the greens… I think that we should not be losing that entirely."

Ross, an enthusiastic supporter of the new brand, would like to see Tourism Whistler use both colour and black and white depending on where the ad will run.

The brand was developed out of market research done in Whistler, Canada, the United States and overseas. It identified several key characteristics which are reflected in each ad. They are active, youthful, down to earth, adventurous, lively and genuine.

"All of these are things we want to portray and this is the personality that we believe Whistler has and we believe we can fulfil these promises to our consumers," said Tourism Whistler’s vice president of marketing Arlene Schieven.

Forming a brand is important, she said, as it gives the resort a unique identity and through that it is hoped to drive consumers to Whistler.

While the brand was generally well accepted some at the launch who didn’t want to go on the record felt it failed to reflect the uniqueness of the resort and what it had to offer.

But many like Paul Tormey, general manager of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, welcomed the brand.

"I think it is excellent," he said. "It represents who we are in Whistler very, very well. It is not pretending to be something we are not, which I think perhaps in the past has been the case.

"I think it is very accurate and reflects the level of service that I think we give here too. People are genuine and they are really passionate about the resort."

In the days to come a new logo will be unveiled said Tourism Whistler’s Fisher. The hope is that stakeholders, such as the municipality, the Chamber of Commerce and others will all get together and create a community logo.

And the brand can even be used, she said, as part of staff training and incentive programs.

"We do think that this has depth and (it offers) leverage for opportunity and we will be looking at that," said Fisher.

Discussions are also underway with Whistler-Blackcomb to see how it can embrace the logo within its own marketing.