In 2018, the Cochrane Tourism Association (CTA) partnered with Cochrane Economic Development to create a five-year strategy for increasing the economic impact of tourism in the Alberta town. This identified a lack of marketing messaging; the town did not have a destination brand.
An effective brand is one based on authenticity. We focused on creating a deep understanding of existing tourism assets and features that could be shared by engaging locals to provide their insights through a public survey followed by a four-month volunteer Working Group.
The online survey was open for two months and promoted via media relations, social media and other local channels. Respondents were invited to apply to be part of a Brand Development Working Group (WG) to further develop the brand story. The group was led through a series of workshop-style exercises to build the brand.
When the group arrived at core brand values and a tagline of “it’s the feeling”, a designer was engaged to work on visual representation of the wordmark and brand guidelines. The brand was unveiled publicly in March 2019 and has since been used to revamp the CTA website, develop a new Visitor Guide and create a signature video and other online content.
Goal: Develop the Cochrane brand story to establish Cochrane as a unique destination to compel travellers to visit
|Collect input from 1,000 people by July 2, 2018.||503 survey responses collected by July 2, 2018. Those that did participate provided very valuable insights.|
|Collect of a diverse variety of input representing all age ranges over the course of the project as evidenced through survey results and Working Group volunteers.||Survey respondents: 3% under age 25; 20% age 26-35; 29% age 36-35; 22% age 46-55; 17% age 56-65; 9% over 65
WG members: 2 men, 8 women, varying in age from 25 to over 50, representing business owners, tourism operators and engaged citizens
|Obtain key message inclusion in all media coverage throughout the one-year project.||Of the 11 articles earned over the one-year project, all made multiple references to key messages. In one instance, the news release was printed verbatim. We even made the front page of The Cochrane Times following the brand reveal event!|
|Obtain 75% positive feedback about the brand following the public launch in March 2019.||According to feedback received from the brand reveal open house, 63.6% of people “loved” the brand, while 36.4% said “it’s pretty good.” One comment even said “It sent shivers down my spine!”|
Challenges & changes made: We had to work extremely hard and repeatedly ask for participation in the survey with messaging that demonstrated why people’s input mattered. Ongoing media relations was a key strategy for getting participation.
A key challenge was that the CTA Board didn’t resonate with the initial recommendation for the brand direction, which caused a two-month delay in completing the project. They were eventually supportive after further revisions and discussion.
Target Audience: The brand development considered the tourist audience to ensure messaging would align with their values. Environics Research Group worked with Destination Canada to develop the Explorer QuotientTM (EQ), which builds a link between travellers’ social values and their travel behaviours and preferences. For Cochrane, we determined this to be the Cultural Explorer, which makes up 9% of the Alberta market. Alberta Cultural Explorers are defined by their love of constant travel and continuous opportunities to embrace, discover and immerse themselves in the culture, people and settings of the places they visit. 51% men, 49% women, with a median age of 37. They are typically university educated with an average household income of $101,584.