The City of Salmon Arm is taking part in a community brand development project. Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer

Salmon Arm Economic Development Society to spearhead project.

Salmon Arm council is onboard with the quest for a new brand for the city.

Last week, council committed $14,500 to an estimated $95,000 community brand development project being spearheaded by the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (SAEDS). The city joins SAEDS and other partners backing the project, both financially and in-kind, including the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre, Downtown Salmon Arm, the Salmon Arm Recreation Society, the Shuswap District Arts Council, the Shuswap Trail Alliance, Shuswap Tourism and Community Futures Shuswap.

Council also agreed to have the mayor and a staff member sit on the SAEDS’ Brand Leadership Team, which includes one representative from the partner groups, as well as from Okanagan College, SASCU, BDO, Homelife Realty and USNR.

This show of support was a factor in convincing council of the importance of the project.

“I think the support you’ve got in the community, in both the financial and the other committees and things, tells us what we need to know, that this has community support and makes sense…,” said Coun. Kevin Flynn.

For the city’s $14,500 commitment, staff recommended using $5,500 from council initiatives, the $2,000 remaining in the budget for a $1.1 million intersection upgrade (20th St. and 20th Ave. NE) planned for 2020 and $7,000 from an RCMP chair replacement reserve that is no longer necessary.

SAEDS economic development manager Lana Fitt provided background on the project. She explained how, through discussions with community partners and organizations, it was determined there was a demand for a community wide branding project and related marketing strategy. She outlined the goals of the project: to find one message that could be utilized and supported by all residents, businesses, community organizations and local government, attract new investment, attract and retain new talent (residents and workforce) and to retain and support existing industry.

“It’s really all about managing Salmon Arm’s reputation,” said Fitt, explaining the concept of place-based branding. “More specifically, it tends to build name awareness for our community. It would be developing a distinctive, believable, memorable, and co-creative but, most importantly, authentic image of Salmon Arm. It would be the act of setting our community apart from all other communities.

“It’s also important to look at what branding is not. Branding is not logos or slogans. Those are the tools that would support the brand in distributing a message. But the brand is really built on our product, a product that needs to continue to be supported and expanded to ensure that we’re enable to deliver on the brand promise in the longterm.”

Fitt pointed to a number of communities that have recently undertaken community branding exercises, including Okotoks, Alta. which, had made headlines, and ridicule, for its previously adopted tagline, “There are a number of things to do in Okotoks.”

“They undertook a branding exercise in 2016 and ended up unveiling their tagline of “Join the Innovation,” said Fill. “So they are now continuing to build upon their reputation of Okotoks being an innovative leader in terms of neighbourhood development, downtown development, community living.”

Fitt confirmed the city would be able to phase in expenses.

“The city may see this as a five-year roll out… But our hope is that things like outward bound marketing in particular, website for sure, any print materials, would somehow engage that brand and hopefully could be done in a cost effective way over time.”