The Spirited Energy branding initiative had three basic objectives: (1) introduce Manitobans to the new place brand, (2) build enthusiasm for the brand, and (3) promote adoption of the brand at all levels. A number of communication tools would be used to support the branding initiative, including television, radio, print, and outdoor media. A public relations program including gala events and promotional videos would also be used.
There would also be a dedicated Web site (www.spiritedenergy.ca) for the initiative. Corporate partnerships would also be part of the branding rollout, and a Manitoba Street Team—teams of youth that would visit communities and participate in local events—was also part of the strategy.
HOWEVER, SOME CONTROVERSY!
Research indicated that Manitobans supported the branding efforts if it resulted in attracting more tourists and businesses to the province. However, it seems that not everyone bought into the Spirited Energy branding initiative. Many people wanted to know the details of the program and how the money was spent on the branding campaign.
And some political leaders even pointed to focus group results that showed the proposed Spirited Energy branding concept met with at best a lukewarm response and at worst a somewhat negative response from focus groups. Asked if the branding initiative was working, Trade Minister Jim Rondeau said that it was too early to tell.
He added, “If we have Manitobans starting to look at the province and seeing their natural attributes and qualities of life, that’ll work.” Furthermore, he suggested, “What we’ve had is less people leaving Manitoba now than we did in the 1990s. We have more economic activity now. Can that be attributable? Well, over time we can tell.”
But one thing is sure: branding strategies, particularly place branding strategies, cannot be driven by short-term, narrow-scope thinking. Moreover, simple marketing campaigns through traditional media channels are not sufficient to build a sustainable place brand. Place branding is not just a name, logo, ad, or sales strategy.
It requires a comprehensive, proactive set of strategic and tactical initiatives involving multiple layers of stakeholders and multiple channels of communication in order to connect with and influence the attitudes and behaviour of the intended target audiences. Was Spirited Energy the right brand promise for the province? Was it executed successfully?
1Why is place branding important? Why is it so difficult to accomplish?
2Given the controversy over the effectiveness of the ‘Spirited Energy’ brand concept, provide a new branding concept that might be more effective for the manitoba .On page 277-279 of the textbook is how to create brand equity. Outline how you would create brand equity for your branding concept:
(a) What would you change ‘Spirited Energy’ to? (branding concept = new name)
(b) How would you create positive brand awareness? (Identity = who are you?)
(c) How would you create brand meaning? (Meaning = what are you?)
(d) How would you create positive consumer judgments? (Response = What about you?)
(e) How would you create a loyal relationship with the customer? (Relationships = What about me and you?