This was originally posted on June 1st at my original Blog space. It was somehow lost in the shuffle. It was a valuable one so here it is again.
Authenticity in a brand is ESSENTIAL. Clients and consumers are media savvy. Long gone are the days where people take your word for it and they google, search, and investigate companies they do business with.
My sample case study this week is the Alberta re-branding campaign.
GOAL: The province has been trying to change it’s oil sands image, and attract visitors to its beautiful tourist spots.
The Rollout: Early last month the new re-branded Alberta image was unveiled along with its $4 million dollar price tag for the rebrand package. (total cost is $25 million over a 3 year implementation)
An open looking script wordmark “Alberta” was created, and a new tag line “Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.” The logo was fairly well received, but the rather bland and universal tag line and promotional videos began some negative reviews.
The Authenticity Catalyst: A headline appeared on May 1st in a UK paper reading: “Canada found out for scenery theft: A province with no coastline borrows North Sea to promote lakes.” The short version: The marketing campaign features a beautiful picture of the England’s rather famous Northumberland coast superimposed with the new Alberta Logo and tag line. Media reps tried to tell people that it wasn’t meant to represent Alberta itself, but the image was meant to convey the mood and tone of what they are trying to do. Oh dear.
People are not blind, nor are they ignorant. Responses like that treat the audience as such and only fuels the fire. The fact that a boater looking for good spots to go in Alberta after seeing the ad, is in fact the person who discovered it, makes the point that is was misleading.
Fallout: Whether misdirection or misrepresentation, this brand is no longer viewed as authentic. It was inevitable that the other messages would then be scrutinized. Online people have been talking about the lack of ethnicity in the campaign, the fluffy content, the price tag, and now the environmental issues are coming up to the forefront. This last one is the whole reason the re-branding was done.
It’s a big problem. They’ve committed $25 million dollars to a marketing campaign only to have it hobbled at the gate by a bad image decision. Handled properly they can recover in time, but the big question in everyone’s mind is: With all of Alberta’s beautiful geography and scenic spots, why not have been authentic from the start and avoided all of this?