Friday, April 17, 2009

Branding 101

The poor national economy has made what were once cracks in the local economy into gaping holes.

These cracks have been well known for a long time, but the real estate and construction bubble made them easy to ignore.

It's not so easy now. Every city in Blaine County has slashed budgets because fees for building projects dried up and local sale taxes on lodging, liquor, retail sales and car rentals dropped. The drop in sales taxes is largely the result of fewer visitors coming to the valley.

Businesses have long known that the money spent to keep the once-famous Sun Valley name in front of the public was far too little. Despite the fact that Sun Valley is the nation's first destination ski resort, Colorado ski areas that poured millions into marketing eclipsed it.

Sun Valley-area business leaders have turned themselves inside out trying to get the word out to keep visitors coming and the economy humming. Sustain Blaine—the new group charged with analyzing the local economy—is calling for better "branding" of Sun Valley. Translation: more and better marketing.

The stage is set for new committees to rack their brains to come up with innovative ways to raise awareness on the cheap—because, of course, money is still an object.

So, how about this? A new airport is in the works. Wherever it's located, local leaders should name it "Sun Valley Airport." That would ensure that the name Sun Valley is used in every travel story and guide in all media—far more broadly than it is today.

It's plain, it's simple—and it's free.

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