What's in a Name?

By Doug Reynolds
Executive Director
NOTO

How many of you remember what IBM stands for? How about CBS? Most of you could probably tell me what these companies do, what they are famous for, even describe their logos. What the initials stand for seems less important.

Welcome to the world of corporate branding – the task of building a public identity for a company or organization. Companies spend millions to develop and market their image to the public and to be viewed by their customers in a particular way.

What does this have to do with NOTO? Many of you will probably recall that a decision to change this organization’s name was made at an annual meeting about 2 ½ years ago. Why a name change after all these years? Well, it’s by no means the first name change in our history. Relatively recently, NOTO was NOTOA – The Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association. The current logo with the arrow on the N is also relatively new. The old logo was a map of northern Ontario.

Although most of our industry exists in northern Ontario, a strong need was identified to develop a provincial image and focus. Quite simply, provincial governments deal with provincial organizations. Any organization that insists on a strictly regional focus runs a great risk of being marginalized in their dealings with government. This was clearly underscored when NOTO agreed to assume a province wide mandate in supporting the Ontario government’s RSA initiative.

Perhaps a better question might be “Why not a provincial organization?” Let’s look at some of the major issues NOTO has been working on over the past year. Property assessment, fuel tax rebates, border crossings, water and waste systems, fish and wildlife issues, forestry planning, land tenure. The list goes on and on, and without exception, the issues we are advancing go well beyond the borders of northern Ontario.

What we have in common, as an industry, is not so much that we are northern (as important as that is) but the fact that we engage in tourism activities that occur outdoors and on crown land and water. Our most challenging issues continue to be natural resource issues, and these issues are present, to some degree, throughout the province. We must have a strong, single voice speaking for our important segment of the industry. We need only to look to the experience in British Columbia to see what a strong single voice can accomplish.

NOTO members provide a wide range of tourism activities to their clients, from traditional hunting and fishing to various forms of eco and adventure tourism. Not surprisingly, hunting and fishing continue to represent the bulk of the industry and some of the highest value tourism product in Ontario and will likely continue to do so well into the future. But as a business organization, our membership already represents a wide range of outdoor experiences, so it makes sense to have a public identity that reflects that fact.

So what is the new name? NOTO. Same name, same distinctive logo. After all, why give up a well known and widely respected brand? Nature & Outdoor Tourism Ontario – NOTO. We keep the logo and acronym, adopt a provincial mandate and reflect the ever widening scope of our industry. We lose none of who we are and have been.

Strictly speaking, we don’t even lose the old name, just add an additional operating name. NOTO is still NOTO. Whether it stands for Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters or Nature & Outdoor Tourism Ontario, we will continue to be the organization that represents our industry to government and the public. We have 75 years of history and success, and I believe we can continue to look forward to the next 75 years.

What does IBM stand for? A few of us are old enough to remember International Business Machines, a company that built adding machines and typewriters. Now, they are simply “Big Blue” the famous computer maker. The Columbia Broadcasting System seems like a quaint name from some time in the past century. But most of us know the television network of Edward R Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. That’s who CBS is to us. Maybe, with a little luck and hard work, we can match their fame and staying power.


This article was taken from page 26 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Winter 2003 Issue

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