Super Natural British Columbia
If you could visit any part of Canada, where would you go?
Ask any nomad, backpacker, frequent flier, culture vulture, day-tripper, road-tripper, gap-year guppy, travel blogger, (travel vlogger, for that matter), and I assure you, you’ll hear them shout, “British Columbia!”; or, as a more syllable-saving, acronym-enthusiast explorer refers to it: BC.
Born and raised a prairie boy, I grew up infatuated with Canada’s West Coast. Few can resist daydreaming of a land of hikers, hippies, and cannabis connoisseurs. But the first time I ventured to the province that would one day be my home, I realized, it was so much more than I could’ve ever imagined. The epic mountains, the vast ocean, the endless wilderness, and the spirit of Indigenous art captured my heart. Put simply: I was smitten.
Now, I’m all grown up – almost – and having lived a life in the branding and marketing world, it’s no surprise to me why BC is the most popular destination in the country. I am hardcore crushing on BC’s tourism brand. I don’t know how they do it (okay, I do know how, that’s what this article is about), but this brand has captured who BC is.
Who we really are.
“Whatever it means to each individual, the British Columbia brand is not only emotionally powerful, but true.”
A Timeless Tagline
BC’s tourism brand has used the same tagline for over 35 years. 35 years! We’re talking 1986. Top Gun! Stand by Me! Depeche Mode! The Smiths! John Hughes! Leg warmers! Shoulder pads! You get the idea.
So what’s the tagline that’s summed up British Columbia since Ferris took his day off?
Super, Natural British Columbia®
Simple, swift, strong. Using this tagline, British Columbia’s tourism brand inspires millions each year to visit the province. By working collaboratively with every sector of British Columbia, and actively supporting each others’ efforts, the province-wide tourism network has helped to cultivate an industry worth $20.5 billion.
“Our industry is marked by longstanding and fruitful relationships with government, Indigenous communities, destination marketing organizations, industry partners and tourism businesses— from rural adventure guide operators to luxurious resort hotels—each contributing to the power of tourism in BC.” states the brand.
The highly-regarded brand emphasizes the true, vast nature of BC’s core. Whether you’re standing in the forest, under a canopy of trees, smelling the ocean, or tasting the crispness in the air as Mother Nature whispers to Father Time “slow down,” it’s easy to feel like you’re in a dream. It’s another world. A foggier, dewier one. It’s pure. It’s magical. It’s supernatural.
British Columbia is wild at heart. The brand helps BC communicate a promise to you. It promises, to all those who venture here, that its powerful nature will transform you. It will renew you. It will bring out your better, truer self. This tagline is timeless because British Columbia is timeless.
British Columbia is Super, Natural.
An Unforgettable Face
British Columbia as an entity is earthy in nature. The brand honours this in its every element, particularly its visual identity, including its typeface. A custom created hand-carved wooden font called “Great Forest.” It’s strong, appealing, memorable, and defies all conventional typographical rules.
The font plays with convention in a quirky, unusual way. This contributes to the brand’s unique and imperfect style, creating instant recognizability. The font is evocative of carving your initials with a heart into a tree with your high-school girlfriend. Further enhancing the font’s offbeat vibe, is its organic approach to positioning and spacing. The letters pile on top of of each other vertically; a nod to British Columbia’s Indigenous totem poles. Custom glyphs allow each headline to be crafted into its own unique piece of art.
The official logo of the province uses the same font. But it’s the iconic maple leaf symbol complimenting the logo that underscores the Canadian connection in international communications. Ensuring whoever sees it, recognizes the great nation that British Columbia is a part of.
If you’ve ever had a long layover, or missed your connection and had to find a hotel for the night, or travelled with your little girl to a new city she’s looking at moving to for school, (I’m not crying, you’re crying), then you’ve definitely come across a tourism brochure.
Typical tourism photography features pretty faces. Pretty faces, with pretty smiles in front of pretty sights that the pretty place you’re visiting has to offer. Tourism BC does things a little differently. Their campaign is recognized at a glance for unique photography and videography that emphasizes the mood equally as much as the content. The work of over 10 local photographers arrests the attention of an audience at every opportunity; be it flipping through a magazine, scrolling through socials, or simply watching TV and waiting for a commercial break to end.
Yes, some of us still use cable.
Selected photographs celebrate the diversity, wealth and sheer immensity of the province’s many different ecosystems, all using natural colour with no special effects or retouching. In this sense, the photography completely reinforces the tagline.
“Does this look like a tourism photo or video? If the answer is yes, don’t use it.”
This is how Destination BC approaches their photography style.
This concept is provocative, authentic, alluring, and rebellious. Sure, we speak merely of photography, but slashing out staged poses and meticulously fabricated smiles portrayed only by the country’s sexiest elite is a huge risk when it comes to marketing. Sex sells, right? But, like any good rebel, Tourism BC is fearless. It chooses its own path. The brand’s photography goal is to make provocative images, while weaving in its pillar: the wilderness. The aesthetic is united using techniques that heighten drama, emotional impact, and real-life credibility. BC’s tourism industry benefits tremendously from the brand’s risks; making it clear: this rebel, has a cause.
Born to Be Wild
British Columbia possesses more than nature. It possesses wilderness. This land is raw, authentic, and spiritual. Countless are drawn to the sheer abundance of BC’s nature, it’s vastness, and its diversity. But immersing oneself in the wild is not for everyone. I get that. It’s okay. But… rub shoulders with it. Just try it. For me?
Whatever it means to each individual, the British Columbia brand is not only emotionally powerful, but true. True to the place, true to its people and true to the experience that travellers want and expect to find here. Most of all, it’s true to who we are.
And you know what’s cool? You can really feel it.
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