Last Thursday, I was invited to attend an afternoon workshop to give input on a new "brand" for Kamloops. Venture Kamloops , the City funded business attraction agency, put on the event. It was facilitated by a lady named Janey Cruise.
I have been to a couple of other workshops like this in the past and was very pleased to be able to engage in lots of productive discussion with other participants. Much of the Venture Kamloops workshop, however, took the form of a longish presentation from Janey Cruise on what makes a "brand". As she was talking, it seemed to me she lost a lot of people. Some folks at my table were, in fact, nodding off. She did not seem to keen to take a lot of questions or comments during her presentation either. I feel it would have been better to involve the participants right from the beginning of the workshop.
When we finally got an opportunity to do some brainstorming on a "brand" for Kamloops, the ideas came quickly and were expressed enthusiastically - at least in my breakout group. We were mainly working on the image of Kamloops that Venture Kamloops would market to businesses who wish to locate here. And as Janey said, it ain't just lifestyle, because every other smallish community in the world is talking about lifestyle advantages. We had to go deeper and further in figuring out what makes Kamloops special.
Despite Mayor Mel Rothenburger giving an enthusiastically positive report about Kamloops' current major brand as the "Tournament Capital of Canada", by far most participants in the workshop thought we were limiting ourselves. In fact, a lot of people actively disliked the Tournament Capital brand - one comment in fact calling it "a crock of shit".
I forcefully made the point that Venture Kamloops should consult with a much larger group than those in the workshop. And, if we were going beyond business attraction branding, and talking about overall branding of our community, an economic development agency is probably not best placed to lead the charge. We need to bring in more than just business for that. Social agencies, cultural groups, sports councils and in fact the whole range of community organizations need to be consulted as well.
Although I found the workshop lacking in certain ways, I absolutely appreciated the opportunity to attend and want to thank Michael Eibl and MJ Cousins from Venture Kamloops for inviting me.