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Region 'always in season' for tourists

Morgan Ian Adams

COLLINGWOOD - Think of it as the region's 'swoosh'.

Just like the ubiquitous Nike logo, the goal is the wave-shaped 'swoosh' designed as the logo for the area represented by Ontario Tourism Region 7 (RTO7) - Bruce, Grey and Simcoe counties - will become ingrained in the minds of people looking for a place to vacation.

On Thursday morning, RTO7 unveiled the 'brand' along with a logo that will represent the area: a swoosh that can either represent the topography changes between Lake Huron and Lake Simcoe, or the outline of the escarpment - with colours representing the water, the fall season, and the spectacular sunsets seen over Georgian Bay.

Michael Clancy, the executive creative director for Brandworks, the firm hired by RTO7 to undertake the branding exercise, also presented the slogan, 'Always in season', representing the four-season aspects of the region, though he acknowledged the slogan can still be considered a work in progress.

"This is not just about coming up with a cute logo and slogan," Clancy told a crowd representing local tourism organizations.

The logo will accompany an entire marketing campaign designed to portray exactly where the region is, along with what the area has to offer.

The work is the culmination of six months' worth of research, including workshops, stakeholder and resident interviews, and site visits by the Brandworks team; Brandworks was hired last August at a cost of $80,000, though RTO7 executive director Jeffrey Schmidt also noted the work builds on the work and research of the RTO7 organization, which has thus far cost about $1.5 million.

The organization is one of several created across Ontario in 2010 as a result of the province's regional tourism management and funding strategy. The exercise has been funded by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Clancy said the branding is designed to appeal a wide range of demographic groups, including young families, to couples and Boomers, as well as new Canadians looking for an 'authentic' Canadian experience. Clancy said the 'brand identity' reflects, and portrays, what potential visitors to the area are looking for, including lifestyle activities such as skiing and snowboarding, heritage, and culinary-tourism opportunities.

"We (in the Greater Toronto Area) are sleep-deprived and stressed out, and finding respite for that is a big deal - and you offer it two hours from our front door," said Clancy. "It's like our own Prince Edward Island, only you can drive to it."

One of the things his group found, said Clancy, is that visitors to the area "feel the 'decompression' upon entering the region."

RTO7 chair Paul Crysler said he thought the logo "captured a lot," and was well-representative of the area.

He also noted that in spite of the size of the region that falls under RTO7, "it's not so disparate."

"We've done so much to build the region as a cohesive unit, and we find every day that we do have so much in common," added Schmidt.

RTO7 will be undertaking a 'brand' launch beginning in mid-March, complete with an in-region promotion contest encouraging local residents to submit photos and stories and "showcase their favourite places and experiences, and what makes (the region) such a great place to live and play," said Schmidt.

More information will be made available on the RTO7 website at

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