Branding...Let's Move to the Front Seat

BY LAURIE MARCIL, MEMBER SERVICES MANAGER, NOTO

Connexion NorthWhen it comes to marketing ourselves, outdoor tourism in Ontario has been taking a back seat to other sectors of tourism over the last few years. Could this be because consumers have trouble figuring out who we are and what we have to offer? Of course, lots of our traditional angling and hunting clients in the Border States are pretty familiar with us, but what happens when we move outside of our traditional markets? If I mention Las Vegas, or New York or even Ireland, you probably have some sort of picture in your mind. Can we say the same for northern Ontario?

The provinces with the most effective marketing are the ones that coordinate their consumer messaging from the federal level right through to the individual tourism businesses. They make branding work so why can’t we?

When Doug Reynolds and I attended the Northern Tourism Marketing Strategy consultation sessions earlier this year we both found it interesting that a number of people in the room did not know what the Canada brand or the two Ontario brands were. If folks in the industry don’t know the brand, can we expect consumers to? The federal and provincial governments have spent a considerable amount of money and time researching and developing brands that support the outdoor tourism sector. What little brand recognition Ontario has in distant markets is primarily recognition of our lakes, forests and outstanding outdoors! The themes of exploring and discovering are a perfect fit with what we have to offer.

Both the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) and the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC) have developed resource documents that will help you understand how they created these brands and how you can make use of them. These documents can be found at the following websites.

http://www.corporate.canada.travel/en/ca/about_ctc/brandtoolkit/index.html

http://www.tourismpartners.com/publications/Marketing/mrktng_OTMPCBrandStory.pdf

You can also contact these organizations directly by calling the CTC at (604)638-8300 or OTMPC at 1-800-263-7836.

At a time when we are all working on our new marketing materials I think we would all do well to look at ways of incorporating these branding /fm/. Wouldn’t the marketing message of your own brochure or website be stronger if you incorporated the Canada and Ontario tourism brands?

Right now our friends in government are working with tourism industry stakeholders to develop a 5-Year Northern Ontario Marketing Strategy to help align and coordinate all levels of outdoor tourism partners so that consumers get one strong message about the outdoor tourism products available in Ontario.

To find out more about this important initiative please visit http://www.connexion-north.ca From individual businesses to regional tourism associations, we will all have a role to play in creating a consistent image of outdoor tourism in the minds of consumers. A tool kit is therefore being created so we can all do our part.

For OTMPC the challenge is to create sub-brands under the Ontario brand. If you create a single Ontario Brand considering our vast size, population distribution and where our main travel hub is located, the Ontario brand will by default become the Toronto brand. This will not drive unique tourism experiences in Northwestern Ontario nor in Ottawa for that matter. A distinct brand under the “Yours to Discover” brand that will drive people to our outdoor products is required. This is indeed an important and challenging task and we will continue to offer our assistance and encouragement. Maybe something like; “Discover thousands of lakes”, “Discover peace and quiet”, “Discover Simple Silence”, “Discover great fishing and golf on one trip”, or even “Discover Ontario: Canada’s Great Outdoors”.

For the industry partners and individual businesses that ARE the product, we challenge you to make use of the tools that are provided to you to help make Ontario Canada a vacation destination. Yes, this is primarily the job of government but we all need to work together to keep the message consistent so that it has a lasting impact. Alone, we can not get the attention of the domestic, US and International travellers.

We know that what we have to offer is the best in the world. Let’s get outdoor tourism in Ontario in the front seat!


This article was taken from pages 8 & 9 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Fall 2007 Issue

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