Bowen has a brand, one that has evolved quite naturally, that stamps this place as one to get back to nature. Soon, it will become an official part of our identity.
The group of volunteer marketers and researchers behind Bowen branding have determined that businesses, visitors and residents are all drinking from the same well. The common elements that draw and sustain all three groups are Bowen’s natural environment and the feeling of community. While that may come as no surprise, the committee has done the groundwork that provides reference points that confirm the notion that that we all want to be here partly because of the natural environment, partly because of the people. The branding research was done in three parts and the business element was the last piece of the puzzle.
The committee presented its findings to council recently as part of an objective to create the Bowen brand. The branding will be based on what visitors, residents and businesses expressed in surveys as their perception of the character of the island.
By having an established brand, Ed Wachtman, one of the architects of the branding project, says that businesses and government, and tourism can all be guided by the research and express an aligned outlook.
Wachtman says that while there wasn't a lot of response to the surveys, there was a great depth in the stories that came out of the survey questions. “That's what we were after;” says Wachtman, "--the stories."
The questions that inspired the stories were simple. "What three words come to mind when you think of Bowen? What is your most memorable experience and story? What makes Bowen unique?"
There were five investigative sessions for businesses that involved 49 businesses and 57 individuals. "We asked them why they do business here and the most common answer was that they come here to live and then find a way to run a business."
Essentially, people don't move to Bowen for its business environment; instead, businesses evolve that fit into the semi-rural lifestyle, allowing business owners to live on Bowen Island.
Once the presentation is complete, an ad agency, Rethink Communications will articulate the brand in words and visual design. "We see it happening this summer," says Wachtman, referring to the presentation of the completed branding.
Remarkably, all the branding work being done with top-notch expertise has been done at minimal expense to the municipality. Gordon Ganong, Chair of the Bowen Island Economic Development Committee personally solicited $90,000 worth of donations from the business community for the project. Wachtman has donated his wealth of branding expertise, and new island resident Chris Staples from Rethink Communications is also generously donating agency time. "Normally this sort of thing would cost a municipality $100,000," says Ganong. The next step is for Rethink Communications to work it’s magic and bring the concepts back to council. ”We are working away on it,” says Chris Staples from Rethink. “We’ll be sharing it with the branding committee and then on June 15th we’ll present to council. “Rethink will have a representation of Bowen in the form of a logo, tagline, logo and guide for using all of those forms of branding.