The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Alberta’s brand as it appears on the official government website.
[columns] [col_2]Alberta isn’t defined by a visual identity,
or advertisements, or what we say about ourselves. It’s defined by what others say
about us. It’s about our actions and how the world perceives them.
What are we, as Albertans, doing and saying
to show the world the true Alberta? The one
we experience every day?
Every day, in thousands of ways, people the world over are making decisions about where
to invest, live, work, and visit — decisions
that are shaped by the collective perceptions
of Alberta and our place in the world. [/col_2]
[col_2]We have a story to tell. It’s a story about the freedom to create. About the spirit to achieve. And about a place filled with people realizing possibilities.
Alberta’s brand enables us to consistently present the authentic story of our province to a set of stakeholders as diverse as Alberta itself.
Whether promoting Albertan products, ideas, and innovations to a global marketplace or welcoming the world to our home, the branding initiative encompasses the wide variety of ways Alberta’s story comes to life. A truly global brand for a place unlike anywhere else.[/col_2]
If I didn’t know better, I’d think the Introduction (except for the flowery bit about spirit and people realizing possibilities), was written by someone who knows something about branding. It’s spot on as far as rationales go.
So what happened?
How could something that looks so set up to win turn out to be such an epic failure? It’s like looking at the framework for developing a concept but still waiting for the research to come back with some insight and concrete terms to use in the copy.
But no new copy ever arrived. And it ended up an emotionless sequence of empty words and fluffy concepts. And no real Alberta to be seen except for a few of the photos.
I think it’s easy to criticize because we’re looking in hindsight and we weren’t involved in the process, but based on what I see, I wonder how this brand strategy concept ever have made it past the Principals at Calder/Bateman, the team leaders for the branding campaign, the Bureau of Public Affairs, a 20-person advisory committee, Harris/Decima research, Ed Stelmach – leader of the project, and anyone else that had someone’s ear on the project.
Take a good look at the Alberta Brand Book and the video presentation below and determine if any of what you see achieves the main goals of the branding campaign.
Remember: the goal of any branding exercise is to capture and communicate to all audiences, the story of what makes the brand unique and superior to its competitors. In this case, to articulate why Alberta is a great place to live, work and invest. To shape the collective perceptions of Alberta and our place in the world.
Can you spot the difference?
Does any of this branding campaign provide clear points of difference or anything concrete and measurable about our province or its people?
Do Albertans really dream bigger, live larger, have millions more possibilities, more strength, more wisdom, more maturity, more wide-open spaces, more traditions, diversity, spirit, and ability to achieve more than other Canadians or the world?
Do we? Or are these just empty buzzwords describing a place where people are their dreams instead of their achievements, a set of values rather than realities; where we enjoy endless possibilities, open doors, freedom and spirit to create and achieve boundless things? Is that you? Is that Alberta?
I think the natural (and most simple) approach would have been to work out a strong set of reasons for why Alberta is a great (superior if possible) place to invest, live, work, and visit compared to other provinces. Four concepts directly targeting Alberta’s core audiences with compelling reasons why Alberta is highly worth considering. It probably would have taken half the time and expense, saved a ton of embarrassment, and worked.
If after watching the video or reading the brand book you actually understand what makes Alberta unique (other than its geography), please let me know.