• New Branding Campaign: Will You “be nf”?

    benf

    Impact on Tourism

    City branding for Niagara Falls is not a foreign concept.  Up until now the city has marketed itself as Southern Ontario’s gem; a city graced with the gargantuan Horseshoe Falls and prosperous urban living.  It seems, however, that the city has taken an unconventional approach to their newest branding campaign – despite the falls, the casinos, and the multitude of attractions, they have looked elsewhere to inspire tourism.  Considering that 12-million people visit the falls a year, the question as to what could be used to increase attention is intriguing.

    Carey Campbell came forth with the idea “be nf” as a modernized slogan for the city.  It is said that the letters are intentionally lower-case to serve as a double entendre – the phrase can be read “be enough” or “be Niagara Falls.”  The merchandise potential is huge and this is an important part of increasing tourism.  Shirts, tattoos, coffee mugs, and other collectibles will help promote this new slogan, raising branding awareness across the rest of the world.

    Since its introduction in early March, it appears that tourists have happily received the newest branding.  In saying this, there is still one question that looms: will this turn Niagara Falls into a place people not only want to visit, but a place that people wish to live and work as well?  To answer this question, it would be best to gain an understanding of what residents think of Niagara Fall’s new branding campaign.

    Resident Reception

    Residents have spoken out against the new campaign because they feel as if the slogan is ambiguous.  Many didn’t initially understand what “be nf” was supposed to even mean.  This is a difficult obstacle to overcome since the Niagara Falls community is the number one perpetrator needed to whole-heartedly launch the campaign.  The city requests that residents share community stories so that Niagara Falls may be defined for tourists – it will no longer be just a good place to visit; it will be a family-friendly, tight-knit community that welcomes all.

    Residents are invited to say what Niagara Falls is to them but there is a danger in doing so for such a purpose.  City branding has failed many places in the world before because residents feel alienated by the council’s attempt to look externally rather internally.  Niagara Falls is not a stranger to tourism but some economists feel that such a branding campaign may result in residential disengagement.  If this is the case, will Niagara Falls still benefit from “be nf”?

    What this Means for the Region

    Niagara Falls is one of twelve municipalities in the region.  The decision to change marketing tactics threatens both alienating residents and causing regional segregation.  Niagara Falls is already one of the region’s largest municipalities; why must it continue to grow independently?  While the answer to this may seem obvious, there have been many great criticisms to the fact that Niagara region does not unify and brand as a whole entity.  Niagara Falls and the Niagara Escarpment are aesthetically pleasing but the other eleven municipalities have many great things to offer tourists as well.   Let’s take a look at what the rest of the region has to offer:

    • Historical landmarks and museums
    • The Niagara Wine Route
    • Festivals and Performing Arts events
    • Over 200 scenic trails and walks
    • Waterparks and conservatories (some of which are in fact in Niagara Falls)
    • Markets, local craft shops, fine dining, b&bs
    • Golf courses and boating districts

    In defining Niagara Falls, will all of these regional highlights be included?  Another big question that begs an answer is whether or not “be nf” will (ironically) be enough to help generate tourism and compensate for 2013’s budget deficits.  Overall, this campaign will be a healthy implementation but the concept is a tad premature.  As it ages the city will most likely notice major financial benefits.

    Categories: Hot Topics in Niagara, Niagara Attractions, Niagara Development, Niagara Night Life, Niagara Shopping

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