New brand misses the target

Former Ashcroft resident thinks Wellness branding was bad idea.

Dear editor

Re: Wellness brand not attracting visitors

While in Ashcroft recently, I saw the new “Welcome to Ashcroft – Wellness Awaits You” billboards with some colored circular objects. Having lived in the area for 26 years and visiting regularly, my reaction was “What IS that??” and more to the point, “What does it mean??” After reading and hearing about the Ashcroft rebranding initiative, I am compelled to comment.

I’ve now lived in Kelowna for 20 years. Several years ago Kelowna City Council spent $100,000 on a market study and rebranding of the city logo. Kelowna went from its well-known “sails” brand, synonymous with its lake and holiday resort identity, to a non-descript circle emblem that was proven easily created using a $9.95 Spirograph and pencil crayons. The public was not involved and the ensuing outcry was largely ignored, so we now have a new and very expensive logo.

As Marketing Coordinator for 14 years with a Kelowna-based aviation company, I was appointed to rebrand four locations when we were purchased by a UK aerospace company. The mandated new identity proved costly in both dollars and the loss of product visibility to customers worldwide who had known our former brand for 30 years. Our main competitor, however, ran ads saying they loved it when the competition rebranded, and that their product could still be found under their familiar brand.

Having a product that remains current is essential to any business or community, with change often necessary that is not always readily accepted.  Wellness as a state of mind, body and soul is achievable by anyone, anywhere, and Ashcroft’s natural amenities offer peace, solitude and many other positive attributes. Viewing wellness as a visitor/tourist attraction however, one might expect to find spas, fitness facilities, arts, cultural, entertainment venues, not to mention vital wellness services like health care and hospital. Are these available when the visitor arrives in search of this wellness?

Ashcroft’s product is and always will be its history, an asset that knows no bounds. It has numerous elements already in place, successfully advertised for decades until the Coquihalla bypassed the area, and still desirable as a historical retreat. From a marketing and public relations perspective, having a product as viable as Ashcroft’s rich history and not marketing it to its fullest capacity, is like winking in the dark – you’re the only one who knows you’re doing it. Perhaps a solution would be to add a “Wellness” tab to Ashcroft’s website and promote this concept in conjunction with the historical feasibility of the community, rather than re-invent the wheel.

Rosemarie (Bewza) Galligan