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Whistler branding underway

RMOW to trademark logo for products



Whistler-Blackcomb has the whoosh; Nike has the swoosh; and soon the Resort Municipality of Whistler will be branding its logo over T-shirts, mugs, pins, specialty foods and greeting cards.

The logo, which is a stylized "w", doesn’t have a quirky name but it will be the cornerstone of a marketing plan to brand Whistler.

It will be used in conjunction with the tagline "True Local" both by Tourism Whistler and the RMOW.

The business isn’t about making money, though it is predicted to make a profit. Rather it’s about strengthening the Whistler brand in the marketplace.

"It’s way more about strengthening the brand than it is about generating the revenue," said John Rae, the RMOW’s manager of strategic alliances and marketing services, who used the "I love New York" campaign as an example of what Whistler is trying to do.

"It’ll be shorthand, as any great brand is, for the positive emotional connectedness that anyone would feel to this brand, this resort."

But, judging by Monday’s discussion, the business will be on council’s terms and that means the products must represent Whistler’s sustainability goals.

Sparked by comments by Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, council insisted Whistler’s commitment to sustainability is embedded in the contract with the wholesaler. This opportunity, he said, allows Whistler to demonstrate in very real terms its commitment to sustainability and The Natural Step (a framework to help people live sustainably).

"If we can’t do this business on our terms… we shouldn’t be in business," said Zeidler.

He explained that if products have the Whistler logo they should have the power to inspire people and, more importantly, change their buying habits.

Rae, in his presentation to council, explained that when it comes to clothing, consumers might not be ready to buy with sustainability top of mind.

In his research into organic cotton and hemp products he said there is reluctance both on the part of retailers and consumers for the product due to quality, limited variety and a higher price point.

Mayor Ken Melamed suggested Whistler could give the wholesaler a copy of its Whistler 2020 document, the resort’s sustainability plan, and ask them to meet its goals accordingly.

The RMOW will not be setting up a boutique store to sell its products. Rather, the licensing program has been established with a wholesaler, Wilson International Products, and the RMOW. The wholesaler will sell the products to local retailers.

It is expected the wholesaler costs of the products will be about $2.5 million per year. Whistler will get 10 per cent of the licensing revenues, about $250,000. Rae said this is a conservative number.

There will be expenses for branding the products in the range of $100,000, leaving $150,000 profit.

Rae has suggested the profits could go towards Whistler’s long talked about Centre for Sustainability.

It is expected that apparel items will be the first to be produced. They could be on the shelves by November.