An ‘Epic’ Adventure for Squamish in Branding

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The branding commitee has centred on the word epic to denote the town and the multi-sport activities it offers. The picture above is just a representation, and the brand hasn’t been finalised yet.

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: April 12, 2014

Lexicographers may now have to add another synonym for epic: Squamish.

In its dictionary use, the word epic means something great and impressive. In urban slang, cool kids imbue it with an extra layer of oomph to mean something that is extremely awesome.

“World class or epic will put you on the map.” Rogers Brooks

And that, as Roger Brooks likes to say, is what we are talking about.

After scanning 1,143 surveys and six months of discussions, brand development committee is circling the word ‘epic’ to define and pitch Squamish to the world.

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The new logo relaces Outdoor Recreation with Adventure, while acknowledging the the First Nation heritage.

Branding expert Roger Brooks presented the brand direction to a small gathering of people in the Ledge Café, but prefaced it by saying that nothing has been finalised yet.

The branding mission is to elevate the desirability of Squamish over every other destination in the great Northwest. Its promise: The world’s most epic adventures can be found here.

“World class or epic will put you on the map,” he said.

In brand formation, Brooks said the committee decided to skew the brand younger, tried to differentiate Squamish from Whistler while focussing on the smart, educated and independent people who live here.

He said what differentiates Squamish from any other place is the fact that it offers multi-sport adventures on an epic scale in close proximity to each other.

“Perhaps there is no place in North America that has all of these and equally as epic together with a five minute drive,” he said.

“We couldn’t find any place in North America where you could be on the water and scaling the Chief half an hour later.”

He admitted that the entire exercise is tourism focussed, but that was a good thing.

“Tourism is the front door for your non-economic development, everyone comes here as a visitor first,” he said.

Branding committee member Glenn Davies said Squamish needs to embrace and own the word epic.

“We are making a bold statement and we really need to claim the word epic,” Davies said.

Squamish’s logo is also being given a fresh bold look with a nod to the First Nations culture.

The tagline, too, will be changed to The Adventure Capital of Canada, removing the wordier Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada.

A brand that calls all visitors to experience an epic adventure won’t be enough, however.

Brooks emphasised the need for a way finding and signage program for trail system and assets, a year round public market and a showcase gathering place, creative office spaces and better defined trail activities, a vibrant downtown and waterfront.

Comments

  1. john P. says:

    All this is find and dandy,but if we want to have them come back let’s get the roads to some of these places fixed and maintained properly.

  2. Carol says:

    And don’t forget the ARTS! Howe Sound Performing Arts Assoc. is in the last few days of a week long adjudicated festival featuring epic talent! The 2nd largest number of visual artists in all of Canada call this corridor home.

  3. peter austen says:

    Lots of places have the potential for epic adventures with multi activities . The Alps , the Rockies , the Himalayas, Alaska, the Cascades, Wales , The lake district in the UK, Scotland, The Andes.. to name a few. I have had many”epics” all over the world on mountains and waters. Squamish has some if you look for them but it’s not unique. 65 K for this “branding?” Cut the hyperbole and tell it like it is.. and by the way open up all the gated logging roads round here so mountain bikers can have better access. ( or are they keeping them closed so the trees can regrow and the logging outfits can go in again and again…). Squamish IS a place where you can experience great adventures. But.. Squamish is not THE adventure capital of Canada however much we wish it to be so . . We really are living in a false world ( madmen is carrying on the tradition) where everyone believes any old tat if it’s packaged right. Rebrand so it makes sense.

  4. Spencer Fitschen. says:

    Atlantic Monthly listed the word “epic” as one of the Guide to 2012 Worst Words to be singled out for retirement. Likely joins awesome, dude, rad, ecosystem (when referring to a bunch of electronic devices that work together), ginormous and devastated (when referring to a broken finger nail).

    The use of the term epic and other popular-cultural references guarantees planned obsolescence and future work for other branding gurus to hawk their “knowledge”.

    I for one am very disappointed that we are going to “own” the word and reduce all that this town has to offer to a cliché.

  5. Jim Harvey says:

    Given the marketing consultant’s own website states that ‘outdoor recreation’ is the most overly used/over-rated marketing moniker it comes as no surprise that his proposed alternative slogan has dropped these two words. To my ear, ‘adventure’ is far more generic and common place and lacks the bold, clarity of outdoor recreation….but what the hell do I know?
    It is good to see the thematic inclusion of First Nation’s art on the proposed signage but most importantly, I hope the new slogan represents a pulling together of interests that will strengthen the community economically, socially and culturally (even for the ARTS, Carol!).

  6. G_h says:

    More money hosed away on consultants. Is there any chance that we will ever have a council focused on keeping taxes low rather than this pointless BS?

    Agree also with all the comments above about the lame adoption of “epic”. Where I grew up, a “bit of an epic” meant a climbing day that went wrong and you nearly died. Now it seems to have been reduced to a term middle-aged folk might use to describe going for a short bike ride then stopping somewhere quaint for coffee and cake …

    • G. Elijah Dann says:

      I prefer coffee and a muffin, but you are right about what “epic” might evoke.

  7. G. Elijah Dann says:

    I tend to agree that branding our community by use of current jargon/fashion isn’t the best choice. It’s analogous to deciding that all your pants will now be skinny jeans. What happens when, next season, bell-bottoms come back in style? (This also applies to getting a tattoo based on a movie/song/boyfriend that just thrilled you.)
    My fear is that the descriptor “epic” will make us cringe a year from now when it’s abandoned by popular culture.

  8. Brad Hodge says:

    Yeah I’m not really feeling it with ‘Epic’ or ‘Adventure’ involved. ‘Adventure’ was new back in 2003/2004. ‘Epic’ was getting old 3 years ago. I always thought Outdoor Recreation Capital was unwieldy and a bit presumptuous, but I like it better than ‘Adventure Capital’. And remember, it doesn’t end here — we’ve budgeted more money for a few years to support rolling this out.

    I particularly love the giant asterisk Mr. Brooks has placed on this enterprise: *for best results, fix your signage, your downtown, your waterfront and your entire economy. I guess the How-To on that one is sold separately.

    • Jim Harvey says:

      I find it interesting that you consider the ‘outdoor rec capital’ presumptuous. As someone intimately involved in this sector and who knows many of the incredible outdoor rec practitioners that live here there is NOTHING presumptuous about this claim and, I’m prepared to say, ALL of us share that opinion.
      Cheers
      JIm

      • Brad Hodge says:

        Well, it is. I’ve travelled all over North America, Jim. There are many, many fantastic places with the same kind of volunteer spirit and plethora of opportunities outdoors. My comment isn’t intended as a putdown — just an acknowledgement that in putting all our chips down on outdoor rec, we are playing in a very competitive field. And we do not have California’s weather to back us up.

        I think Squamish is fantastic when it comes to outdoors, obviously, or I wouldn’t have chosen to live here. But we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket. There is more to Squamish than just the outdoors. Our ‘brand’ needs to encompass all aspects — from outdoor rec to raising a family to starting a business, arts, etc. I think if this ‘Adventure Capital’ is the way we’re going we’ve failed on that. I disagree with Roger Brooks. We excel in outdoor rec, but we do not ‘own’ it.

        • Jim Harvey says:

          We might not ‘own it’ but no town in Canada puts it all together like Squamish. If you read ‘Explore’ magazine, Canada’s outdoor rec magazine, no other town in this country receives more consistent recognition/coverage then does Squamish.
          I’m a regular visitor to the other major outdoor rec communities (Rossland, Nelson, Revelstoke, Fernie, Moab, Bend, Hood River, etc.) and all one has to do is mention you’re from Squamish and voila, instant cred.
          From my perspective, the growth & dynamism that we are now experiencing in Squamish is entirely due to the lifestyle afforded by the quality of our nature/outdoor rec. This growth has occurred in the absence of political leadership and corresponding investment in outdoor rec. Our town has never got behind the slogan and accordingly we continue to fight the obvious trend. I have been beating down this door for so long that I no longer have the energy to fight the battle, though I take some consolation that, despite the residual antipathy, our community is becoming the vibrant outdoor rec capital of Canada that it was destined to be.

          Can you forward me your e-mail (jimharveydesign@telus.net).

          Cheers
          Jim

  9. heather gee says:

    Firstly, the proposed new Squamish sign is attractive and I truly like the way the First Nations designs are incorporated.
    John P. made a valid comment about the standard of our roads – particularly those that visitors use to local activities. The municipality also forgot about signage!

    Valid comments made by all those who posted before me. What had me laughing is that I looked up “Epic” in the Urban Dictionary. Do yourself a favour and follow suite – ‘Epic’ has become much over-used slang and much worse…

    • G_h says:

      I truly do not like the way First Nations design were incorporated. No disrespect intended but this is not a town where the First Nation population is especially large not influential. The inclusion of the “token totems” smacks of a PC effort to please everyone and makes no sense. (Actually the overall effect reminds me strongly of Twin Peaks, though I am not sure why.)

  10. cliff miller says:

    great so we spent $65,000 to tell us what we already knew “Brooks emphasised the need for a way finding and signage program for trail system and assets” this problem has been around for at least 15 years and yet again in yet another study it is confirmed that we have a problem in getting people around this town.

    as for “the adventure capital of canada” i bet we are going to be in for a fight on that title…….. this is a pretty big country and i dare say there may be a couple of other towns that could provide “epic” adventures as well……i guess time will tell though or at least until the next $65,000 branding exercise anyways……

  11. Phil S says:

    Hopefully the survey yields some cohesive ideas for action that the District can take away, beyond ‘circling’ a word that might apply for some residents, but can hardly be experienced by ‘visitors’ from the highway.

  12. ANIKA says:

    It’s going to be TOTALLY EPIC with an industrial plant spewing out fumes soon! Yeah man!

  13. Kerry Brown says:

    A total waste of money, time, and effort to get a rehash of an already tired brand.

  14. Chris W says:

    I can honestly say that people who haven’t volunteered or played a role in the process are the first to criticize it. Community members have volunteered there time to come up with a Branding Statement we can all be proud of. Tourism is the way to the future for our little town. It as well has been stressed that this is not the finalized Branding Statement. So to criticize it before it is even final is foolish! The only thing we can hope is that once it is completed that citizens of Squamish get behind the new branding message to help with the cities economic development and that the district does not just put it on the self to gather dust.

  15. Christine M says:

    Love the sign, strongly dislike “epic” it makes us seem like we are trying to be cool- and I am not sure that will appeal to families, Gen X and Boomers- MIGHT to millenials but even then- use of that word might be colloquial but not sure about a “town” owning that word

  16. MichaelL65 says:

    Wasn’t Squamish already known as the Recreation Capital of Canada? “Epic”. No. JUst no. How about “Amazing”? “Incredible”? Hell, even “Outrageous” is better than “Epic”. How about Natural” since Eco Tourism is the hot thing? “Squamish. Come for the most Natural Adventures on the Planet”. Something like that?

  17. Dave says:

    Squamish? It’s a secret!??
    But you can find out what it is by visiting our Downtown, The Chamber of Commerce, The Adventure Centre, talking to our citizens or simply exploring the valley.
    But you and many others might already know what the secret is!
    Branding? Who needs it? I have talked to hundreds of people in my travels and most of them already know what and where Squamish is, and what it has to offer. Each of them talk to hundreds of others too. I think its called…”word of mouth”….Far better than sweating about “branding”.

  18. Dave says:

    Heather G.
    I, for once, agree with you:
    Epic? Let us not as a town, make fools of ourselves by using a slang derivation of a word in the English language which has a meaning which is NOT appropriate in this particular context.
    I like to think of Squamish as no longer being a “hick” town.

  19. Jeff Norman says:

    The outdoor recreation capital brand is working! Why are we changing it ? the word adventure is the most generic word around and already used by one of our neighbours Pemberton ‘Adventure Begins Here’ this would be a big mistake.