Here’s a short but significant case study by city branding expert Bill Baker in the USA, on how to change a destination name. First published on Bill’s blog on city destination branding, the case study shows how Lane County in Oregon (USA) managed to put its destination on the map by changing its name to Eugene, Cascades & Coast – an area which includes the Cascade Mountains, the McKenzie River Valley, stretches of the famed Oregon Coast, as well as the cities of Springfield and Eugene in the Willamette Valley.
Last year Bill caught up with his former client Kari Westlund, President & CEO of Travel Lane County to discuss their name change and how it has impacted their branding and community relations.
Why did you feel it was necessary to introduce a new destination name?
The concept of moving from Lane County to Eugene, Cascades & Coast came from our local stakeholders and customer groups. Our client groups of leisure travelers, convention planners and sports event planners did not know where Lane County or Lane County, Oregon was.
Time and again it was not until we would reference Eugene, that clients’ would say, “Oh, yes, I’ve heard of Eugene,” or “Oh, yes, that’s where the University of Oregon is, right?”
How did you know if you had settled on the most appropriate destination name?
It came from our resident and customer stakeholder group focus sessions during the brand planning research, and the top three were tested by TDM [Total Destination Marketing, Bill Baker’s consulting company].
Did you encounter any resistance? How did you address this?
Yes, community leaders in Springfield were disappointed. Historically, Eugene-Springfield was commonly used, and our organization was originally the Eugene-Springfield CVB. Even though the immediate transition was from Lane County, they had a sense of loss for Springfield not being included.
All community leaders are seeking recognition for their cities, so very transparent conversations leveraging recognition of Eugene for everyone’s benefit have taken place since the new brand was launched and will probably continue to take place as we all watch the numbers and economic returns grow.
It is a situation where it is logical, and everyone understands it intellectually, but it is still a bit painful emotionally for everyone outside of Eugene.
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