Regional Branding

Regional Branding

One of the most frequent opinions voiced in Colorado Tourism Roadmap listening sessions was that the state’s seven travel regions are doing little either to drive consumer awareness or serve as meaningful platforms for regional marketing collaborations. With the participation of the Regional Branding Task Force, the Colorado Tourism Office selected an internationally renowned place-branding agency, Destination Think! to shape and brand new travel regions in 2018.

The final report was adopted by the Colorado Tourism Board in September 2018.

Colorado Regional Branding Map  2018 Regional Branding Final Report

One of the most consistent concerns shared in over 20 listening sessions held in 2016 related to the seven travel regions created in the 1990s. Across the state, listening session participants said the travel regions were doing little either to foster industry collaboration or to make consumers more aware of Colorado travel opportunities.

Many pointed out that many of the existing regions failed to encompass a shared experience that could be communicated to travelers or others. Others shared concerns that the regions’ geographically based names – such as South Central or Northwest – lacked inspiration for travelers.

It became clear that by identifying and branding the unique qualities of each part of the state, Colorado has an opportunity to build its tourism industry’s competitive advantage. This work lays a strong foundation for making consumers aware of unique experiences statewide while creating a focus for industry collaborations and the development of new regionally based traveler experiences.

As a first step, the Colorado Tourism Office formed the Regional Branding Task Force to guide the development of new travel regions. The first assignment of the 11-member task force – co-chaired by Chris Romer, CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, and Cathy Ritter, director of the Colorado Tourism Office – was to select a marketing/branding agency to develop a research-based approach to identifying and branding new travel regions.

In October, the task force chose international place branding agency Destination Think! from a field of nearly 50 bidders. Headed by Chief Strategist William Bakker, the Destination Think! team launched a comprehensive research program. This has included:

  • a product experience scan exploring whether certain pursuits were unique to part of Colorado’s geography
  • a sentiment analysis based on a scrape of social media data
  • a review of regional branding best practices encompassing both domestic and international models
  • a survey of Colorado tourism industry stakeholders as well as person-to-person interviews with key industry leaders
  • a Colorado resident survey to gain insight into local perceptions and attitudes

This research ultimately led the Think! team in February 2018 to propose nine travel regions for further testing. This map was tested in a series of 20 facilitated, invitation-only workshops in each region.

Findings from these workshops were incorporated into two alternate maps. Think! sought input from the task force to shape the final draft map and develop recommended brand identity statements for each proposed region.

The recommended regions and their brand identities were tested through a last round of consumer research. The final deliverable included a map of the new travel regions and a description of each region’s “Place DNA,” a collection of special qualities that sets each region apart from any other place in the world.

Destination Think!'s research process

Destination Think!’s work in Colorado was led by the firm’s chief strategist and partner, William Bakker, considered one of the top destination marketers in the world. The Destination Think! team steered a research-based approach to identifying new travel regions and the “Place DNA” of each, relying on a blend of consumer research and Colorado tourism industry insights. The plan called for testing proposed travel regions in a series of statewide workshops including not only tourism industry representation, but historians, artists, journalists, community leaders and others with deep insight into a region’s unique character. As a final step, Destination Think! validated findings with Colorado tourism stakeholders as well as Colorado travelers.

Once Destination Think!’s work was complete, the Colorado Tourism Office — in partnership with the Regional Branding Task Force and vendor partners — took the final step of identifying regional naming. In Destination Think!’s view, the best possible outcome would be development of a naming platform that will resonate not only with travelers and tourism stakeholders, but with Colorado residents and the business community as well — something we believe we've achieved.

All regions

If adding “region” or “area” to the title of your region, it should be lowercased unless part of a headline where most words are capitalized. Examples:

  • Running text: Visit Pagosa Springs and the Mountains & Mesas area.
  • Headline: Colorado Springs & the Pikes Peak Wonders Region

The Great West

When used with “the,” it should be capitalized no matter where it is in a sentence. The “The” can be removed when preceded by “Colorado’s” or another identifier.

  • Yes: Plan a journey to The Great West.
  • No: Plan a journey to the Great West.
  • Yes: Explorers have been coming to Colorado’s Great West for generations.
  • Yes: Plan your Great West journey.

Pikes Peak Wonders

The words “Pikes Peak Wonders” should always be used in that above order, without an apostrophe in “Pikes.” If “the” precedes the region name, it should be lowercased unless it starts a sentence.

  • Yes: Colorado Springs & the Pikes Peak Wonders Region (headline)
  • Yes: Visit Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Wonders region. (running text)
  • Yes: Top 25 Pikes Peak Wonders
  • Yes: Colorado’s Pikes Peak Wonders
  • No: See the wonders of the Pikes Peak Region.
  • Yes: See the Pikes Peak Wonders this summer.
  • No: See the Pikes Peak’s Wonders this summer.
  • No: See the Pike’s Peak Wonders this summer.

Possession:

  • Yes: Pikes Peak Wonders’ geological marvels delight visitors.
  • No: Pikes Peak Wonders’s geological marvels delight visitors.
  • No: Pikes Peak Wonder’s geological marvels delight visitors.

Plural vs. Singular:

  • As a unit, the region is singular, so use singular verbs: Pikes Peaks Wonders is a glory to behold.

Mountains & Mesas

Always use the ampersand (&) and don’t switch the order of Mountains & Mesas.

  • Yes: Visit the Mountains & Mesas region.
  • No: Visit the Mountains and Mesas region.
  • Yes: When visiting Mountains & Mesas, you’ll find a diversity of landscapes.
  • No: Visit the Mesas & Mountains region.

Possession:

  • Yes: Mountains & Mesas’ national parks and monuments are found in Cortez and...
  • No: Mountains & Mesa’s national parks and monuments are found in Cortez and...
  • No: Mountains & Mesas’s national parks and monuments are found in Cortez and...

Plural vs. Singular:

  • As a unit, the region is singular, so use singular verbs: Mountains & Mesas is a glory to behold.

Denver & Cities of the Rockies

Always use the ampersand (&) and lowercase “the.”

  • Yes: Visit Denver & Cities of the Rockies this summer.
  • No: Visit Denver and Cities of The Rockies this summer.
  • No: Fort Collins & Cities of the Rockies is a great place for a summer vacation.

Possession:

  • Yes: Denver & Cities of the Rockies’ breweries are renowned.
  • No: Denver & Cities of the Rockie’s breweries are renowned.
  • No: Denver & Cities of the Rockies’s breweries are renowned.

Plural vs. Singular:

  • As a unit, the region is singular, so use singular verbs: Denver & Cities of the Rockies is a glory to behold.

Pioneering Plains

If using “the” before the region name, do not capitalize it.

  • Yes: Plan a trip to the Pioneering Plains this summer.
  • No: Plan a trip to The Pioneering Plains this summer.

Possession:

  • Yes: Pioneering Plains’ birding trails are often found in wetlands areas...
  • No: Pioneering Plain’s birding trails are often found in wetlands areas...
  • No: Pioneering Plains’s birding trails are often found in wetlands areas...

Plural vs. Singular:

  • As a unit, the region is singular, so use singular verbs: Pioneering Plains is a glory to behold.

Canyons & Plains

Always use the ampersand (&) and don’t switch the order of Canyons & Plains.

  • Yes: Visit the Canyons & Plains region this summer.
  • No: Visit the Canyons and Plains region this summer.
  • No: visit the Plains & Canyons this summer.

Possession:

  • Yes: Canyons & Plains’ historic sites can be visited year-round.
  • No: Canyons & Plain’s historic sites can be visited year-round.
  • No: Canyons & Plains’s historic sites can be visited year-round.

Plural versus Singular:

  • As a unit, the region is singular, so use singular verbs: Canyons & Plains is a glory to behold.

Mystic San Luis Valley

The words “Mystic San Luis Valley” should always be used in that above order

  • Yes: The Mystic San Luis Valley is found in southern Colorado.
  • No: The Mystic Valley of San Luis is found in southern Colorado.
  • Yes: There’s a spiritual vibe in the Mystic San Luis Valley.
  • No: There’s a spiritual vibe in The Mystic San Luis Valley.
  • No: There’s a spiritual vibe in the Mystical San Luis Valley.

Rockies Playground

If using “the” before the region name, do not capitalize it or add an apostrophe to Rockies.

  • Yes: Plan a trip to the Rockies Playground this summer.
  • No: Plan a trip to The Rockies Playground this summer.
  • No: Plan a trip to the Rockies’ Playground this summer.