Ontario’s Highlands has been on a journey of self-discovery. This journey has taken us through various stages to define ourselves and what we stand for as a region. It helped us to define our platform – how we showcase the Ontario’s Highlands experience to the visitor. It allowed us to Come Wander.
As a first step of self-discovery, OHTO identified our “ideal visitor” as the Connected Explorer. The Connected Explorer is a confident, youthful, optimistic group, who want to escape from the everyday, enjoy the breadth of local customs, routines and people. They find the best way to relax and reconnect is to disconnect, slowing their pace and letting each discovery along the way become an opportunity to stimulate the senses and nourish the soul.
Careful consideration of the traits, desires and motivators of the Connected Explorer led to the exploration of the most promising consumer insight to base a new brand position on. The rationale was comprehensive.
- It needed to resonate strongest with city dwellers.
- It needed to stand on its own, and not require a profile event, attraction or destination to support it.
- It needed to be relevant to all the various forms of engagement that visitors experience with OHTO operators – on the winding roads, through the woods, along the waterways, and strolling through small towns.
- And it needed to be an insight that no other Regional Tourism Organization had embraced, in order for it to lead OHTO to a unique, meaningful and unassailable brand position.
The consumer insight chosen was:
“Sometimes the best way to reconnect is to disconnect, slow the pace, and just wander, letting every new discovery (events, place, people) along the way become its own opportunity to stimulate the senses and nourish the soul”
A set of brand personality traits were confirmed that reflect the desires of the Connected Explorer, the ambitions of operators in the region, and the promise of the experiences in Ontario’s Highlands. This brand personality profile will underpin all marketing messages and positioning.
“Ontario’s Highlands has a brand personality that: is curious for new things and experiences; is confident, youthful and optimistic; is community oriented; is a leader in doing things and influencing others; is desirous of the interest to collect memories, not things; and finally, is a storyteller with authentic stories to tell.”
This fundamental perspective of what fuels the visitor to find value and interest in Ontario’s Highlands led to the exploring of various brand positioning options that not only supported the consumer insight, but also satisfied the needs of the visitor and the authentic experience the brand could deliver. In the end, OHTO chose a brand position for Ontario’s Highlands that met all this criteria with high marks and will become the foundation for all marketing, sales, product and partnership activities for the foreseeable future:
“Exploring Ontario’s Highlands with an openness to wander – both physically and mentally, allows for a spontaneous unfolding of events, activities and people throughout a visit, and delivers a sense of authentic discovery that nourishes the soul.”