Tourism Atikokan has adopted a new logo: Atikokan, Naturally wild.
But that doesn’t mean the end of the line for the Canoeing Capital of Canada, tourism intern Katie Hannon told Council Monday.
“The Canoeing Capital is still a part of who we are; we will still use that,” she said. But that tag line, and the Atikokan-Quetico ‘portal’ logo developed in 2004, never gained broad acceptance with the tourism industry here.
“That tagline was just too specific; highlighting a niche sport like canoeing made it difficult to market hunting and fishing,” she said. They remain the core product of the tourism industry here.
Hannon, along with AEDC community development officer Gord Knowles, and Thunder Bay’s Shout! Media, developed the new branding image.
They aimed to re-design the tagline with something generic enough to be used by all organizations. Of course, it still had to speak to the community’s identity, and be ‘clean’ and modern enough to tie-in well with the Tourism Atikokan website and other promotional efforts.
Most importantly, they wanted to leave the ultimate decision on logo design and tagline to local outfitters and businesses (“They are the ones who use it,” said Hannon.). The AEDC’s role was to act as facilitator, bringing together the professional design company and the end users.
Shout! Media came well recommended by Thunder Bay Tourism and Tourism Northern Ontario, and made an affordable proposal ($2,000) that included developing six concepts, a dozen possible taglines, and imaging strategies to go with them. The firm reviewed over 50 examples of current and past Atikokan promotional efforts to determine the message the community wanted to convey.
The AEDC took the concepts and taglines developed by Shout! Media to stakeholders – local and regional outfitters, business owners, tourism officers, Town, Quetico Park and MNR officials, the AEDC board, Chamber of Commerce members – and asked them to rate the logos, designs and colours, and to rank the taglines. As a group, they chose the final product.
All were satisfied with the basic logo; over 70% were satisfied (and fewer than 5% dissatisfied) with the colours (dark blue and a dark orange-gold); and almost 70% had ‘Naturally wild’ as their first choice of tagline (94% had it as their first or second choice).
The new branding image is already in use at the Tourism Atikokan FaceBook page.
It comprises one of five components (and the first to be completed) of a $40,000 program to refresh and refocus tourism promotion efforts here. The Town and the AEDC are each backing the effort with $15,000; Tourism Northern Ontario has provided the remaining $10,000.
The other elements are:
- A training package for front-line staff in the accommodation and service sectors, so that they are knowledgeable about all Atikokan has to offer.
- Start work on a ‘Visit Atikokan’ tourism-based website
- Print a 30-page ‘Welcome to Atikokan’ booklet for visitors and potential residents and investors
- Keep all tourism partners up-to-date with what is happening here, and work with them to develop new promotional opportunities for Atikokan.
CAO Angela Sharbot asked about highway signs, and particularly the Town’s significant investment in the portal logo and the Canoeing Capital theme.
While ‘Canoeing Capital of Canada’ is not part of the new tagline, it will still be featured prominently (as will ‘Gateway to Quetico Provincial Park’) in advertising materials and on websites, said Hannon. That’s similar to what Muskoka does; it’s known as ‘Cottage Country’, but uses a tagline: ‘Once discovered, Never forgotten’.
There are no plans being made to replace highway signs – as Hannon said, Canoeing Capital is not being abandoned – but when the time comes to replace signs, the new brand can be made part of the mix.