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New tourism branding a ‘surprise’ for some councillors

Clarence Valley’s new tourism branding was launched in Market Square last Thursday. Pic: the logo in use on the council’s tourism website.
  Geoff Helisma Several councillors who attended a workshop two days before Clarence Valley Council (CVC) launched its new tourism branding last Wednesday have expressed their surprise that hadn’t played a role in the logo’s development. Councillors Jim Simmons and Andrew Baker said they saw the logo for the first time at the workshop. Councillor Karen Toms had previously sighted the design at an Iluka Chamber of Commerce meeting. However, those councillors were left wondering why some of their questions went unanswered at the workshop. Councillor Toms said that a question regarding “how much had been expended so far on the brand’s development and launch” was taken on notice by the council’s staff, for example. The Independent emailed questions to CVC, which revealed that the general manager had made an executive decision in accordance with the Clarence Valley Tourism Advisory Committee’s constitution, which states: “Advisory Committee recommendations which are determined by the General Manager to be purely or substantially ‘operational’ in nature will be dealt with by the relevant Director and any action or lack thereof reported to the Committee on a regular basis.” The council’s environment, planning and community director Des Schroder said in his emailed response that “tourism marketing is an operational issue, as is all branding, and was reported to the executive”. “The advisory committee and other community groups had a key role in developing the brand,” he said. However, which community groups were involved was not outlined. The logo was designed by Destination Marketing Store at a cost of “around $16,000”. Clarence Valley Independent (CVI): How much staff time (dollar-wise) was expended on organising the launch and the facilitation of the design’s creation? CVC: Not known. Marketing is part of normal council activities and, in this case, those activities were concentrated into the launch. CVI: How was the logo (branding) developed? CVC: Recommendation for a Clarence Valley brand came from the Stafford Report, which was adopted by council as part of the tourism review and had as its key finding that the Clarence Valley did not have a suitable destination brand or position that industry could leverage off easily. The executive signed off on the new logo. CVI: Is it licensed by the council or can anybody use it in their promotional material? CVC: Anyone can use it. In fact, council encourages anyone involved in tourism in the Clarence Valley to use the logo. The more the Clarence Valley brand can be reinforced the better. We want people to know about it and to spread the word. That’s what creates recognition and we want people to recognise the Clarence is a great place. We want it known far and wide. CVI: Is there any control over how third parties might use the branding? CVC: There are branding guidelines. CVI: How will the branding, CVC’s intellectual property, be protected? CVC: In the same way as any business or organisation, such as The Clarence Valley Independent might protect its intellectual property. CVI: What value does the council expect to reap from the new logo? CVC: Council expects the returns to come to the community through improved marketing of the Clarence as a great place for a break. The value is in increased tourism and economic activity. In the year ending March 2014 the Clarence Valley had 934,000 visitors and about 1.8 million visitor nights. The economic impact of tourism on our economy is estimated at more than $457 million and provides direct employment for 2500 people. Those are substantial figures, but we want to build on that and part of doing that comes from developing our own brand. It builds on what we have, reinforces our strong points. The Independent asked the mayor, Richie Williamson: “Why weren’t the public and the councillors engaged in something as important as a new tourism branding, given that one of your quotes [in today’s front page story] states: “One of the benefits of the new brand is all our community can embrace it, feel some connection and unite under it”? Councillor Williamson said that councillors had had the opportunity to attend tourism advisory committee meetings, “as observers”, during the development of the brand. Councillors Margaret McKenna, Sue Hughes and the mayor are councillor representatives on the committee. Councillor Williamson said the new branding and associated logo replaced those used by the former Clarence River tourism association. He said that there were guidelines regarding the council’s two brands – corporate and tourism – that would prevent any confusion on their usage. “I thank the committee for their work,” he said. “There are people who put a lot of hours into this and for that I am grateful.”