Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lake Country Adopts a New Brand

The last few weeks have been very busy while we are working on many fronts to improve our community and to provide the foundation for the best quality of life in the Okanagan. We have been working on the budget and there will be another meeting on February 22nd to discuss further and hopefully to come to some decision on our targets and projects for 2011 and following years. We are also addressing the issue of asset management, which, in other words, is our infrastructure management, and we will be engaging the community in the next few months to address this big issue – a common one for all Canadian municipalities and, for that matter, for the rest of the world. We have signed a new protocol agreement with the Okanagan Indian Band and this will open great opportunities for both the Band and the District. I will address all these at one point. However, I wish to focus today on the new brand for the community.

Council, after a few months into the process, has unanimously adopted the new brand, logo, and tagline for the community. I find extremely exciting that we have come to this point and that, at last, we can project ourselves in a coherent approach to the rest of the world. Too many times I have heard the question, "where is Lake Country?", and also heard the usual answer, "it's the place between Kelowna and Vernon". We are, in our own right, a community of communities that have specific historical, political, and social connotations that are neither those of Kelowna nor those of Vernon.

The branding exercise we have gone through has addressed this very same issue. When you work on a branding exercise, narrative and stories are the most important element of what the brand will signify at the end of the process. I believe that all those involved, from the consultants to the various individuals and committees that worked to come to this point, contributed much to the identification of Lake Country as the ideal place to be in the whole Okanagan. The logo and tagline certainly mean that, and the story behind the brand architecture provides an even more critical description of whom we are and why we are different from our neighbouring communities. Will everybody like the new 'style'? Of course not, but the feedback we received and continue to receive from those who are going to use it, see it, and feel it is very positive and encouraging. They know the new brand will open doors to more sustainable living in our community.

The process included a discovery session where the participants identified the brand story. They told of Lake Country being creative and forward-thinking, and they described a number of qualities that were incorporated into the brand. First, they indicated that Natural Beauty is what we have and what draws people here. They then said that this community draws people because of the Lifestyle we offer as a foundation to their desire to achieve Happiness. The things that allow this to happen are the Economic Drivers. I will not belabour on the rest of the process, which was intensive and included a wide variety of stakeholders. Rather, I wish to describe the logo and the tagline. One notable mention is the photo contest we had, which was a huge community success.

The logo reflects the four seasons, as well as the agriculture, wine, lakes, and sunshine that are part of our lifestyle. The concept also reflects the four distinct communities within our boundaries that are fluidly connected together. The consultants presented a brief video of the concept using images from the four communities: the 'golden' Oyama, the 'green' Winfield, the 'burgundy (wine/grapes)' Carr's Landing, and the 'blue and azure' Okanagan Centre. The tagline is 'Life. The Okanagan Way.' It summarizes the brand story. Lake Country is a place where life has a rhythm with nature – a place where one can find happiness. In order to keep the brand dynamic and meaningful to a variety of audiences – specifically those that are attached to economic drivers – secondary marks have been incorporated by substituting the active words 'Experience' (for tourism, sport and cultural audiences) and 'Business' (for the economic development audiences) for the primary brand of 'Life'.

The comments we have received have been very positive, with the rare exception, which is to be expected. Mayor Baker said, "Lake Country has experienced rapid residential growth in recent years, outpacing provincial averages. We look to the new brand to tell the unique Lake Country story, assist in diversifying the local economy and help tourist operators by proudly putting Lake Country on the map." Councillor Greenwell, who heads the Economic Planning & Development Committee, which was tasked to champion and lead the project, commented, "This brand is the result of six months of hard work by the Economic Planning and Development Committee, staff and the branding consultants, Zapp Worx and Reputations. We believe it will be a great asset to the District of Lake Country, the development of Main Street, civic organizations and businesses in promoting their activities and marketing Lake Country."

In conclusion, we are very fortunate to have had the support of so many stakeholders in the development of the new brand, and look forward to implementing the required steps needed to bring it to life and further promote Lake Country. Projects like this are often contentious and it's impossible to please everyone. However, with the extensive support received from the many stakeholders involved, we look to members of the community and the media for leadership in becoming brand ambassadors for our community. We'll keep you posted.


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