The survey on agree or disagree with the wellness brand for Ashcroft was presented to Mayor and council with 76 per cent of 223 signatures in disagreement, 15 per cent agree, and nine per cent undecided. A group of branding ambassadors were also there which made for some lively discussion.
There were two companies involved in this process. After going to a meeting with the first company, DDI, I felt we were being steered in a good direction towards a western theme. He stressed in his presentation “You must jettison the generic” and “If your brand stands for everything, then you stand for nothing”. We were complimented on the park and museum but there was a long list to improve curb appeal for Ashcroft. Very little was done. Their fee was $16,000+.
The second company “Flair Innovations” was hired for follow-up and we end up with the wellness brand. It is supposed to be an all-encompassing umbrella (with descriptive arm-waving) that covers a whole range of what it takes to be healthy. Great – a dying hospital and a massage business combined with a health food store. The woman from flair was met with indifference from the rodeo association writing them off as a bunch of Cowboys, not realizing that this was a group of local civic minded-citizens. I didn’t hear anything about this new company until after the signs were up. She had a flow chart explaining wellness – none of which stood out as anything unique. The signs on the highway are amateurish and very poorly put together. They should be removed as they are an embarrassment to our town. Flair charged $26,000+ for this new age touch-feely buzz word and question provoking logo.
The funding came from Northern Development Initiative – I think Federal grants. Some branding ambassadors refused to sign the survey. The survey was very impartial – an exercise in grass roots democracy which is supposed to keep a minority from dictating to a majority. Mayor Anderson and councilor Kormendy said that perhaps there should have been more public input. The remaining councilors are on the branding committee. The large percentage in disagreement calls for further action from Mayor and council – perhaps a referendum. As Deb Arnott stated at the meeting, a lot of volunteer work went into this process and kudos to them, however misguided.
Another quote from DDI was “The narrower the focus, the stronger your success will be”. My take on this is that wellness is totally inappropriate description for Ashcroft and that it should be scrapped in favour of the recommendations of the first branding company.