With reference to the article featured in the Star last Friday entitled “Experts want to create a strong branding image for Nelson,” I would like to take the opportunity to clarify some aspects of our proposal to City Council.
First, you cannot “create” a brand for anything, and second, we are certainly not presumptuous enough to believe that you can do this for a living city. It makes for a good story, but I cringe to think that people may believe we are about to run through some business school strategy process and churn out a “concept” upon which we can stamp “the brand of Nelson.”
Ten years ago, I left a career with a big UK corporation precisely to escape that sort of thinking, and I turned my back on the one-size-fits-all marketing philosophy to run a B&B and raise my children in this remarkable mountain community.
This city’s peerless beauty and impenetrable charm is that it is more unique than almost any other community in which I have spent any time. You can’t bottle that.
The reason that our small group was formed was because we recognize that the city has a real opportunity to benefit from combining the potential of some major initiatives which are about to commence.
A new regional visitor gateway will soon open in the recently-christened “Railtown” district, where there may also be a new creek-side trail to the reclaimed lakeside transfer station.
The Nelson Commons is coming, anchoring Baker Street at the opposite end of a to-be redeveloped Savoy Hotel.
Baker Street itself needs some cosmetic work, and this year’s investment into street sculptures is a good start, but only a start.
The Hall Street corridor will undergo a major redevelopment from the IODE Park down to the Lake, and there is a proposal to redirect the traffic flow around parts of the downtown.
And beneath our feet we have a new state-of-the-art fiber-optic network.
To us, it makes sense to try and stitch these projects together to benefit from the sum of the parts.
Some research into the things that make us strong, vital, and different from other places (few could disagree that we are that) could help us to attract more people to the new Visitor Center and alert new employers to the potential provided by our new broadband capacity, for a start.
Some people may not wish to see more visitors, but ask any business (e.g. employer) in the city if they would like a few more customers, and I think you will only get one answer.
If this project does go ahead, it will require a full and frank exchange of views in order to succeed.
I am in no doubt that the Star article will start that particular ball rolling, and I thank the newspaper for igniting the debate. But let’s be clear at the outset: this idea is about using taxpayers’ money to get the best return for the community, not about just developing a new logo for our City notepaper.