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Canada’s Iconic Blue Mountain Resort Refocuses Brand Strategy with Distility 1day1brand

Blue Mountain Resorts Ltd. is Ontario’s only year-round mountain village resort located northwest of Collingwood, ON. It offers a huge scope of both seasonal and non-seasonal getaway activities for individuals and/or families including, but not limited to, alpine skiing and snowboarding, biking, fishing, golfing, boating, SCUBA diving, caving and spa relaxation.

In the summer of 2011, the Blue Mountain Resort team was getting ready take on a complete redesign of their website. For a resort, this is a massive marketing investment. Before such an undertaking could happen, the company had to ensure that their brand clearly communicated their position as a year-round source of adventure, and not just a seasonal destination for winter/summer activities.

Why Blue Mountain Resort Chose Distility

For director of marketing Paul Pinchbeck, the company’s previous identity as “a friend you wanted to spend time with” was problematic. “Bit by bit the brand became watered down or altered,” he admits. Disappointed by past experiences with branding experts, Pinchbeck and his colleagues required a new way of solidifying their brand before the launch of the new website.

That’s when Pinchbeck’s teammate, Bev Philp, VP of Marketing and Sales, did an online search for branding agencies in the Toronto area. In her research, she found Distility. The Distility approach appealed to her because it could provide her company with a quick, smooth route to unlocking its brand advantage. Soon after, Blue Mountain Resort registered for Distility 1day1brand.

“Having been through the experience of a multi-month process just to end up with something not very palatable to us, [Distility’s] brand in a day was very much appealing,” asserts Pinchbeck.

Blue Mountain Branding: Step by Step

The first step was a preliminary meeting in which Philp and Pinchbeck met with the Distility team to discuss their needs and clarify their target audience. After that, Blue Mountain Resort went through a highly sophisticated screening process whereby they selected the perfect cross-section of stakeholders to attend Distility 1day1brand. Attendees included C-suite executives and board members, including Blue Mountain Resort chairman and CEO, Gord Canning, as well as ground-level employees like ski lift operators, who also represent the resort’s target audience, being that they themselves are end users.

At the workshop, attendees began the day with an exercise designed to help them articulate and share their aspirations for the brand. To explore these thoughts, each participant was given an iPad, complete with special Distility software that allowed them to vote on the best ideas. Since the Distility workflow encourages exploration in the morning, the team was ready to make firm decisions by the afternoon.

Paul Pinchbeck, Director of Marketing, shares his ideas on Blue Mountain’s brand.

After lunch, the participants gathered around the digitally-projected workwall to delve further into the details of their brand, committing to a winning promise, personality and position. The 1Page Brand Strategy, Workwall and team photo were each  e-mailed to them immediately after the workshop, as they were leaving the room.

Blue Mountain Resort Chairman & CEO Gord Canning steps up to the Distility Workwall.

A New Brand for Blue Mountain Resort

At the end of the day, excitement was in the air as participants toasted their fresh brand strategy with sparkling wine. Their new promise, personality and position made them think about their massive website project in a positive new light. It was clear that their refocused brand strategy informed not only the look and feel of the site, but also its functionality — and this was a big relief. One HR person even spoke about how the brand strategy could help focus the resort’s training process when, in the summer, hundreds of seasonal hires are added to the team.

The Blue Mountain Resort team toasts their new brand strategy.

“Walking away at the end of the [Distility 1day1brand workshop], we had a brand that was emotional and that resonated,” states Pinchbeck. “It had a life of its own after we finished the branding exercises.”