The truth will set you free – or in the case of Lillooet, BC, acknowledging its rough-around-the-edges exterior helped set this unique District apart from other nearby mountain communities.
Located three hours northeast of Vancouver amid the jagged Coast Mountains, Lillooet’s geography is so rugged that it can literally kill you – a geography in stark contrast to the softer mountain experience regularly promoted in nearby towns, featuring organized tours, lattes and five-star accommodation. There are no spa days here – just dirty girls and even wilder things…
Tough love in the form of honest truths being communicated at the tail end of community reconnaissance was the hardest part for a community desiring to be ‘majestic’ and looking enviously toward Whistler, just 90 minutes to the west. Truth be told, those visiting Whistler aren’t the type who would best appreciate Lillooet. But those who appreciate Lillooet will in turn find Whistler too cushy. In this epiphany lies a breakthrough for community brands focused on trying to be something for everyone: focusing on a niche market enables a community to speak directly to those who will most likely be attracted to the community. For a niche brand like Lillooet, it was important to profile the personality type(s) that would be attracted to the community, ensuring the personality was reflected in the myriad forms of brand implementation.
Lillooet is a comfortable shoe for the active adventurer who spurns the urban jungle and whose compass points decisively toward extreme outdoor pursuit. These are the non-conformists who severely dislike the pretentiousness of big box stores and paved parking lots—people not driven by material wealth, but creativity. This distinct market likes to take risks and doesn’t like things sanitized for their enjoyment, because, to them, watered-down is boring and contrived. In Lillooet, they see the ‘diamond in the rough’. Lillooet is proud of its simpler approach to land, people and living.
Enter ‘Guaranteed Rugged’, a stamped brand that sets expectations and speaks to target markets that appreciate a more “real” adrenaline rush.
Having struggled economically, it was critical that Lillooet’s brand include pragmatic niche targeting to attract very specific tourism diversification (Coast Mountain Circle Tour and rugged adventure seekers), tourism supporting economic development (cottage industry, First Nations culture/ adventure tours and food/ craft products), and early phase retirees and footloose entrepreneurs.