Big Wild Branding Blunder

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Bill Geist beat me to the punch in blogging about Anchorage’s new Big Wild Life brand campaign. It sports the tagline:



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Bill gives the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau props on the new campaign.

I assume Bill would extend the same props to Anchorage’s not-too-distant neighbor, The Yukon Territory, who launched a strikingly similar brand campaign last year called “Larger Than Life”.



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At least one savvy Fairbanks-based reporter picked up on Anchorage’s copycat branding blunder.

While apparently a thorough research effort drove Anchorage’s $80,000 brand study, the competitive set analysis only included similar cities, and not the neighboring Yukon Territory just 200 miles down the road.

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5 Responses to “Big Wild Branding Blunder”

  1. Mathieu - Radar Says:

    The upper picture should be submitted to http://www.mytravelbackpack.com ; )

  2. Bill Geist Says:

    Great point…I wasn’t aware of the Yukon effort. But, just because it’s close doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.

    I guess I am most taken by the juxtaposition of Wild and Life. When moose walk the streets (as happens in Anchorage), that’s certainly Wildlife. When you have an urban entertainment district with nightlife, that could be a Wild Life. And, in a destination like Alaska…the Big comes naturally.

    Of course, the minute you have to explain a brand, you’ve already lost the war 🙂

    But, I’m not so much explaining it as I am my appreciation of it. So many of the “brands” I’ve been seeing lately are nothing more than lame slogans. This one actually points out a differentiation that “Where Friendliness Flows” (or, Anchorage’s old slogan, “Wild About Anchorage”) never will.

    Enjoying your posts. Looking forward to the conversation.

  3. Says:

    You make a valid point that perhaps this brand identity is a good fit for Anchorage, especially the way you describe it.

    But the BIG WILD LIFE of urban/rural delights you describe is certainly not how the brand is being activated on the micro-site.

    With one exception, all of the artwork highlights the rural/sportsman activities in and around Anchorage, doing nothing to promote more sophisticated, urban offerings within the city.

    Nightlife? Restaurants? Museums? Nope. Nope. Nope. Just the same old kayak, rock-climbing, and ho-hum, sublime, landscape photos that just about every other destination in that region use.

    But my real gripe is with the fact that the CVB paid $80,000 for this brand study, and the end-result was a blatant rip-off of what someone else just 200 miles down the road had already done. Come on, the home pages are almost identical and the Anchorage CVB simply co-opted the Yukon Territory Brand Name as their tagline. Why would you pay anything for that kind of effort?

    Is this the best branding consultants can offer? I’d be curious to know if the same brand consultants worked on both projects. I will try to find out.

    I would think that by doing a little homework on destination branding (the DMAI website has some great books) a CVB could do a lot better on its own.

    Branding is not rocket science, no matter what consultants will tell you.

    A good destination brand (minimally) should:

    1) clearly identify and resonate with the unique qualities of your destination
    2) differentiate you from your competitive set
    3) promise & then deliver on a one-of-a-kind destination experience
    4) serve to reinforce and consolidate the emotional connection a visitor will have with that destination
    5) be something all stakeholders (residents, businesses, etc.) can identify with, embrace, tie-in to their own marketing, and deliver on

    According to articles that continue to come out in the local press, the buzz around town is that most residents and businesses questioned in Anchorage are unhappy with the new brand. And if the locals on the ground won’t embrace your brand, the experience your brand promises certainly won’t be delivered to visitors.

  4. Bill Geist Says:

    I hear what you’re saying…but the execution is still young. Let’s see how they work it. I’m still liking it…and think they’ll be able to pull it off.

    Indeed, the conversations online and in Anchorage should help the refining process so that it can better resonate at home.

    To your primary issue of copying…I had to laugh this evening as I got off the plane at DFW and was confronted by the new Dallas brand:

    “Live Large. Think Big.”

    Guess this “Big” thing is getting big all over.

  5. Livette Says:

    Nice blog!

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