Creating a unifying brand for a diverse, thriving city
When three of Anchorage’s leading civic organizations asked us to develop a brand strategy to attract more visitors, residents, and businesses, we leapt at the opportunity. Based on the organizations’ goals, we developed a plan to:
- Communicate Anchorage as a good place to live, work, visit, and do business
- Develop a single unifying message
- Create a consistent image
- Develop a coordinated marketing plan
How do you unearth the essence of Anchorage? We started with a comprehensive plan
To develop a brand strategy that would reflect the true essence of Anchorage, our team first looked to existing research to understand the findings as well as the gaps. While quantitative research methodologies gather data, qualitative research techniques capture emotions wrapped around meaningful experiences. Buried in those stories lie brand truths.
We sought input from key players: visitors, community leaders, residents, and leaders in the Alaskan Native community. Each group holds a personal stake and pride in Anchorage, and each has a voice. To capture distinctively meaningful experiences, we approached each group in a way that would encourage them to share their stories.
Our extensive research revealed several key themes
After listening carefully and studying their experiences, several themes began to surface:
- Anchorage is a wild frontier – Adventure. Exotic. Eagles. Glaciers. Whales. As one resident told us, “This is the land of big animals: moose and bear. Where else can you go out on a bike trail and pass ten moose?”
- Anchorage beckons independent spirits – Visionaries. Creativity. Diversity. Entrepreneurs. Can-do attitude. We were told: “Choice is abundant – you choose how you live your life.”
- Anchorage is an ideal location – Public facilities. University. Restaurants. View. Waterfront. Mountains. One person told us, “Our unique weather and climate makes people feel like conquerors, hard-core athletes, and Samaritans.”
- Anchorage fosters opportunity – Global. Metropolis. Unpretentious. Variety. Spirit. Evolving. Repeatedly, we heard: “We are a young city.”
- Anchorage thrives with spirit – Lifestyle. Legacy. Life purpose. Tradition. Youthful. One resident said, “There is still a pioneer spirit about this place.”
A single, resonating theme emerged: Abundance
Frontier. Independence. Location. Opportunity. Spirit. Our insights revealed a single brand core in each theme: Anchorage connotes abundance.
Anchorage burgeons with opportunities to live, play, and do business. Businesses skyrocket in a market flourishing with opportunities. Anchorage residents can do in a single weekend what most folks in the “lower 48” fantasize doing in a lifetime. When people begin to grasp the breadth and depth of this city, they cannot help but think: abundance.
To take the next step in the brand strategy – develop a campaign theme – we delved into the concepts of culture, character, and brand truths. We analyzed our ethnographic research, the stories of abundance from our three target audiences: residents, visitors, and businesses. And we addressed how the brand would support the functional, emotional, and social needs of each target audience.
The new campaign theme captures the abundance:
Anchorage – Big Wild Life™
Sure it’s a play on words. The bear and moose are big wildlife. But this theme speaks to so much more. The theme beckons to every independent soul walking the Earth – to outdoorsmen, sports fans, pioneers, visionaries, and entrepreneurs. You can find your big wild life in Anchorage.
City officials loved the “Big Wild Life” campaign
City officials jumped on this theme like a brown bear snagging a salmon. Anchorage launched its new brand in a big way: television and radio ads, magazine and newspaper ads, website (www.BigWildLife.net), and bus wraps. We even dressed statues around town in thematic T-shirts. (View the TV commercial at www.bigwildlife.net/brand.html.)
Plus, city officials introduced a licensing program for local vendors. The first items were specially labeled bottled water and a Big Wild Life t-shirt – two “must-have” items for your abundant, Big Wild Life adventures in Anchorage, Alaska.
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