Branding Whistler to the world 

Municipality lays groundwork for True Local line

By Alison Taylor

Whistler hopes to be one of the top 100 brands recognized around the world.

It’s a lofty vision, to be sure. And if there’s any chance of reaching that goal, the groundwork has to be laid as soon as possible to reap the benefits of hosting the 2010 Games.

“Would we believe that we could be one of the top 100 brands in the next three to five years if that wasn’t happening?” asks John Rae, the resort municipality’s manager of strategic alliances. “No. But this is one of those opportunities that we can’t afford not to leverage.”

Rae is the force behind the True Local project, the municipality’s logo wear line that will carry the official Whistler mark on T-shirts, sweatshirts, and water bottles, to name just a few things.

In his office at municipal hall Rae lays out several T-shirts each with its own distinct Whistler design.

“You can try to peddle your Goth version of Whistler or your huggie bear or your whatever it might be, but what we’re saying is at the same time we believe that on behalf of the community we’re strengthening the community’s brand by now having an authentic line that competes,” says Rae.

He holds aloft a black long-sleeved shirt with a small authentic Whistler logo embroidered on the left side of the chest. It’s a prototype of what will make up the basic line of the True Local program. That’s the first step in what could be an extensive product line ranging from T-shirts to a branded mountain bike line to Whistler paint colours and the gamut of things in between.

The launch date for the line has been pushed back six months to the summer as the municipality and its partners lay the groundwork for its newest business venture.

“The reality is that if this program was a logo wear program, product would have been in the market in December,” says Oliver Flaser, a municipal consultant working on the project. “But it’s beyond a logo wear program.”

Part of going beyond logos on T-shirts was to see Tourism Whistler formally adopt the municipal logo early this year. Now when guests visit the municipal website or the Tourism Whistler website or the whistler.com website (the accommodation bookings site jointly owned by the RMOW and Tourism Whistler), they will find the same brand. This is how the brand seeps unconsciously into the marketplace.

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