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"Our Lifestyle, Your Reward"
By Dave Kiffer

April 23, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - I jumped the gun in my last column ("Hearty Alaskan Haven") and confused two different parts of the visitor industry "branding" plan.

"Hearty Alaskan Haven" is the not the slogan of the new plan, it is the "brand core." The brand core is the "fabric" or composition of what Ketchikan has to offer visitors.

jpg Dave Kiffer

Next comes the "brand personality": Genuine Frontier Culture.

What this means, according to the "branding" folks is the "Ketchikan personality is analogous to the Australian personality: masculine, fun, rugged, exotic timeless and proud."

Then comes the "brand truth": Hard work should be rewarded with adventures in nature.

That is clarified as "People in Ketchikan work hard because they like hard work and they know that a good time is right beyond their doors. Tim is experienced differently in Ketchikan. Everyday task are often set aside for the important things: a great conversation, an opportunity to fish or a bolt of sunshine coming through the clouds and trees. This is how life should be everywhere."

And that leads - drum roll please - to the "brand identity" or tagline that will be used to promote Ketchikan.

On Thursday, the tagline - drum roll continues - "Our Lifestyle, Your Reward" was unveiled. (Rim shot!)

There were eight different taglines considered including:

"Rugged Relaxation, Naturally"

"Live Hearty, Play Hard"

"Alaska's Gift to Hearty Adventurers"

"Our Lifestyle, Your Reward"

"Catch the Spirit of Adventure"

"Escape to True Adventure"

"It's the Real Adventure"

"Rugged, Real, Relaxed"

As I noted earlier, the chosen tagline is "Our Lifestyle, Your Reward." Does that work?

Better than some of the others. Just what would "rugged relaxation" be anyway? Sleeping in the back seat of a Jeep CJ-7? And while "adventure" seems to be a crucial component of cruise travel (just look at all those blue haired folks waiting in line to use the smokestack climbing walls!), none of those proposed catch phrases is quite catchy enough.

I'm still not sure that "Our Lifestyle, Your Reward" really means anything or that it portrays what makes Ketchikan different or worthy of a visit. But time will tell.

One thing that I'm sure wasn't part of the "branding" process was translation "issues." Just how is "Our Lifestyle, Your Reward" going to sound in Japanese or German? Don't laugh. Anyone who spends any time downtown in the summer can attest that we have a high number of foreign visitors so we must be doing some marketing - at least indirectly - oversees already.

We've all heard that the literal of translation of Coca Cola into Chinese came out something like "Bite the Wax Tadpole." But there have been a few other slogans that also "lost something" in translation.

Coors Beer once tried to translate "Turn it Loose" into Spanish. The result was "suffer from diarrhea."

A T-shirt maker in Florida tried to market "I saw the Pope" T-shirts during a papal visit, but the Spanish version ended up reading "I saw the Potato."

Parker Pen reportedly wanted to market a non-leaking pen in Mexico but had trouble when the ad read "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant."

Pepsi also had troubles with its Chinese translation. "Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation" somehow became "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave."

Clairol tried to market a curling iron called the "Mist Stick" in Germany. Too bad that "mist" is apparently a slang word for "manure" over there.

The translation troubles work both ways. I've heard that an early American newspaper ad proposal for the Swedish Electrolux vaccums carried the tagline "Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux." Now there's a catchy catch phrase.

Which leads me to believe somewhere, someplace (like Uzbekistan or maybe South Korea) that "Our Lifestyle, Your Reward" is a punch line waiting to happen.


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Dave Kiffer ©2005

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