The Kingston brand is built on the city’s core truths: it is authentic, local, youthful, creative, and in constant renewal through the influx of university and college students each fall. It was built in a voice that is non-commercial, genuine, and shaped by local creative voices – not a “boardroom brand,” but rather one that is inclusive and reflective of the people of the place.
The brand is stewarded by Tourism Kingston through our partnerships with various city departments, agencies, community groups, and business owners with the intent that, over time, a common destination or place brand would be adopted and leveraged by all who communicate about the city. The Integrated Destination Strategy, a destination development road map for tourism first created in 2018 and renewed in 2022, identifies a “one voice vision” as key to the city’s long-term success.
About a year ago, Tourism Kingston and Kingston Economic Development embarked on a collaborative brand extension project, including development of a “brand 2.0,” which would clearly align the organizations (and others) with an updated brand architecture to service different audience while uniting under one master brand. This also included the introduction of new colour and graphic elements in the visualization of the brand and guidance for corporate identities.
- Visitors: primarily couples originating from nearby cities, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal; Millennially aligned, including those with and without children, as well as older couples seeking looking for a getaway
- Residents of the city of Kingston
- Investors considering business development in the city, including domestic and international businesses with a focus on healthcare innovation, clean tech, and sustainable manufacturing
- Make tourism and economic visual identities complementary, but not identical, recognizing their different audiences and usage
- Same font family across branding with different treatment to provide appropriate tone and manner for varying audiences
- Application of consistent visuals
- Aligned web design/format
- Owned photo and video assets developed with diversity and inclusion in mind
- Established brand and corporate identity architecture
- Long-term brand alignment
- Focus on content development and storytelling
The one-voice approach has strengthened and aligned marketing teams and agencies across sectors, with other organizations (including the municipality) seeing the benefits. Residents, business owners, and visitors are equally reflected in the core values of the brand, which garners community support far beyond the organizations mandated to market the destination.
Many initiatives have been executed, showing this alignment:
- Change of signage along major highway as visitors enter Kingston from being city-owned, corporate creative to the Kingston brand – reflecting the city’s trust of the brand
- The brand resonates with residents – they make up 50% of the Visit Kingston social channels following, purchase Kingston-branded merchandise, and engage in tourism events
- The shared brand makes things like government announcements and media hosting easier and streamlined – all of the city’s external communicators aligned under the brand, presenting a unified vision for visitors, investors, residents, and business owners
- As a tourism-dependent city, all organizations promoting Kingston through a shared brand and voice was crucial to COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts
- Engagement with the City of Kingston on creative industries strategy to develop and promote film, theatre, and music through the Kingston brand, as well as environmental placemaking initiatives for public spaces