An increasingly competitive world tourism market is making it harder for B.C. to set itself apart, but the natural geography of the province is something that B.C. will continue to market under a revitalization of the Super, Natural British Columbia brand.
“I thank God everyday we are not Saskatchewan,” said Marsha Walden, Destination B.C. president, speaking at the annual general meeting of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, discussing a provincial strategy centred on setting a new direction for the brand.
Super, Natural will be repackaged, becoming the basis of a new marketing philosophy emphasizing B.C.’s wilderness, said Walden.
“We believe a bold new brand platform is what is needed to dramatically set us apart from all the competitors that exist in the world today,” she said. “We need to be putting out a brand promise that really ignites the imagination of people that causes them to give us a second look.”
At Tourism Kelowna CEO Nancy Cameron says Destination BC has done a fabulous job refreshing the brand with a new approach.
“With brands you have to massage and tweak them and that’s what Destination BC has done,” said Cameron. “They held consultations around the province. They had no pre-conceptions. They came back and realized that Super, Natural BC was still relevant and could be made current. You have to catch consumer’s attention and catch their curiosity so as they research your destination they find out the magnitude of the things that are available in B.C. and in the Okanagan.”
Global travel is expected to double by 2030, with growth in affluent older adults travelling without children, seeking authentic experiences, what Walden described as “free spirits and cultural explorers.”
“The basis of marketing competition is changing,” said Walden, explaining that the goal of Destination BC’s three-year strategy is to make B.C. the most highly recommended destination in North America. At the core of the reinvigorated brand is “powerful nature.”
“It is not just nature, it is this idea of wilderness, which is unique in B.C. Our ocean, our rugged coastlines, our massive mountains and this idea of cities that are perched in wilderness are emotionally captivating for our visitors,” said Maya Lange, vice president of global marketing for Destination B.C. “Our new brand is built on this true nature for B.C. To experience B.C. is to be renewed and transformed. At our core, we are wild at heart. it is who we are, it is what we are and it is how visitors feel when they experience us.”
An example of the new brand is the Wild Within video (tinyurl.com/wildbc), which Walden said was only posted to Youtube to gather input from provincial stakeholders. It has now received almost a quarter of a million views.
TOTA CEO Glen Mandziuk thinks this region, which is already working under a 10-year strategy launched in 2012, is well-positioned to capitalize on the new plan and refreshed brand.
“I think what we saw was good research went behind the marketing brand that was put together and shown to us, and now it’s our opportunity to leverage the ideas that come from that,” he said.
“It’s a fresh look to it. It’s actually more appropriate to the market, it’s fun, it’s a little more bold, and it’s something we’re pleased to see happen. And I think it’s something we in the Okanagan can really plug ourselves into.”
For Cameron and the rest of Tourism Kelowna, the refreshing of the Super, Natural brand means a strong provincial strategy to market to international tourists and that will help the Okanagan.
“I think that’s our strength as a province,” said Cameron. “Every community has that strength because of the geography and where we are situated. It’s a common element for every community that we have this strength of natural beauty that surrounds us all.”