It’s branding season next week in St. Albert.
A team from consulting firm Destination Development International will swoop into town to lead a “branding charette” aimed at helping citizens identify what makes St. Albert unique. Organizers hope to emerge from next week with a preferred brand that’s worth exploring further. The ultimate goal is forming it so St. Albert can market within the Capital region and beyond in order to increase tourist traffic.
“It’s not just about tourism. It’s also about improving what there is in St. Albert for the residents,” said charette manager Vicky Soderberg.
Spread across five days next week, the charette will include several components aimed at gathering ideas from St. Albert residents. These include interviews with a range of interested groups, an open house and two public meetings.
The first public meeting, scheduled for Tuesday evening, is an idea-gathering session. The other public meeting on Thursday night will publicly share the team’s findings to that point.
“We do anticipate having at least preliminary direction to talk about,” Soderberg said.
Soderberg is hoping for input from everyone — business and property owners, elected officials, non-profits, average citizens and teenagers.
“Everybody has a stake in this,” she said.
By the end of the week the team hopes to have a preferred brand in place, then it will spend a number of weeks running through feasibility studies to see if it’s economically viable.
“People need to understand branding is based on feasibility, not on sentiment,” Soderberg said.
The branding initiative has generated a great deal of interest from all corners of the St. Albert community, said Mayor Nolan Crouse. He’s hopeful that next week’s exercise will produce a branding direction.
“I expect to see some controversy coming out of it but I also expect to see some decisions coming out of it,” he said.
Controversy is just a natural part of the process, he said.
“When you narrow things down into a brand it means you’re going to be exclusive of something, you’re not going to include something,” he said.
Destination Development is the firm headed by tourism and economic development expert Roger Brooks, who delivered a frank assessment of St. Albert’s tourism potential in January. Based on a four-day visit in May 2008, Brooks suggested that St. Albert has the potential to be known as a garden city, sports city, a recreation city or an artisan city.
He mentioned some key elements of a successful brand: it should rise from the grass-roots level, it should be narrow and it should represent the actual perception that outsiders have of your city.
Information on the charette can be found on the city’s website. http://www.stalbert.ca.