Search for a community identity begins

The task of determining a brand identity and communication strategy for Sicamous begins this month.

The task of determining a brand identity and communication strategy for Sicamous begins this month.

Selected by District of Sicamous Council through a request-for-proposals process, companies Will Creative Inc. and Stormy Lake Consulting will be taking the lead in this six-month exercise.

District town manager Evan Parliament says it’s all about identity, knowing who you are and what you aspire to be. It’s also about being able to market the community with a brand that’s unique and will stick in people’s minds.

“We also want to tell a story, and why would people be interested in our story as a community, where we came from, what’s our history and where we plan to go,” said Parliament. And all that stuff is going to be unwrapped in the branding exercise.”

A public consultation meeting is being held at the Red Barn on Thursday, April 28, from 5 to 8 p.m. Parliament said about 50 invitations are going out to different people and community associations to attend, while another 30 seats will be open to the general public.

Will Creative founder Ute Preusse said this will be an important opportunity for Sicamous residents to identify why does the Sicamous brand exist, what does it promise and what reputation it’s trying to foster. This research, being conducted by Stormy Lake, will inform the creative effort to be done by Preusse and Will, who will attempt to develop and package a Sicamous brand that comes across “in a fresh and exciting and enticing manner.”

Preusse said she has already had a preliminary look at how Sicamous is perceived from outside the community. She found that while the Shuswap has a clear identity with plenty of enthusiasm behind it, there’s some uncertainty with regards to Sicamous.

“Sicamous is sort of more seen as a stop-over or in people’s minds, largely undefined, which is a fantastic opportunity because what we’re dealing with is a clean slate in terms of really defining what it is the district stands for…,” said Preusse. “Ultimately, I believe, this project is about building a solid strategic foundation across the pillars of live, work, play and visit of course for Sicamous. It’s a very exciting opportunity for us to work together with the council and the community in defining and placing Sicamous on the map beyond the Shuswap.”

Preusse, whose past clients include the province of Alberta and the Oceanside communities of Vancouver Island, including Parksville and Qualicum Beach, said the best brand identity, regardless of a community’s size, offers the best of what’s available today, laced with an aspiration to the future.

“What are the current strengths, what is the experience of Sicamous and what are the opportunities for the future really help contribute so that genuinely, this community brand is not just one that portrays the community but is actually really believed by the community,” said Preusse, explaining the importance of community involvement in developing a brand.

Parliament said he saw first hand as Oceanside went through a similar exercise under Will’s guidance.

“This proponent we’re working with assisted them in rediscovering their identity and they were very pleased in the community,” said Parliament. “I did a lot of reference checks, I know a lot of people there, and they were very pleased with the final product.”