Brand embraces eccentrically friendly Oak Bay

Branding leads Oak Bay Tourism to promote its exclusivity to just the right visitor

Oak Bay is set to embrace and promote its exclusivity to just the right visitor after extensive branding work.

The Oak Bay Tourism Marketing Committee shared its vision Monday (Nov. 30) developed after a session last spring with stakeholders.  At that time “friendly” was the overall word stakeholders determined describes the community.

Afterward, the tourism committee sought the views of outsiders, said committee member Angus Matthews.

The words they heard then were polar opposite: not friendly; stuck up; expensive; and old, rich and nothing to do.

It confirmed the need for work, with a goal to “refresh, refocus and deal with the fact we don’t have a great purple cow.”

“Summer’s pretty good around here. Fall, spring, Christmas, these are seasons that need a shove,” Matthews said.

By distilling information from Destination BC and occupancy statistics they found that 62 per cent of visitors to south Vancouver Island stay with friends.

“The idea of ‘locals love what you love, and bring their friends,’ makes sense,” Matthews said.

It’s also consistent with what the committee heard stakeholders sought to promote.

The diverse range of experience opportunities offered a challenge in setting a specific brand. The community lacked a standout they dubbed the “purple cow” to promote.

The community holds clearly defined destination businesses, arts and the outdoors with a series of village centres to add to the mix. Oak Bay offers highlights such as the Cattle Point Dark Sky Urban Star Park, Trial Island ecological reserve and the Salish Sea lapping at three sides of the municipality “We are literally the heart of the Salish Sea … the geographic centre,” Matthews said. While each holds potential, none are the “purple cow.”

Stakeholders also said they wanted the right tourist. The committee boiled that down to visitors 35 and older with an aboveaverage income, embracing Oak Bay’s exclusive-yet-friendly persona.

All the work came together in the tagline: “We are the old, the new, the out there, and the open air” alongside it’s “Oak Bay, picture perfect” logo.

“It’s an evolving document. We’re not glued to this … brands have to breathe,” Matthews said.

During the summer the committee used the line on an inexpensive guerilla marketing campaign posturing city telephone poles with an image of a granny rocking out with an electric guitar and the tagline.

The city is one area they’ve determined to target for a slice of the action, drawing on visitors already in the region.

The branding project was funded by Oak Bay Tourism, which is in turn funded by a hotel tax paid by guests at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and Oak Bay Guest House. Learn more at oakbaytourism.com.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com