In January 2015, Experience Scottsdale embarked on a journey with creative partner STRUCK to research perceptions of Scottsdale, connect with consumers and stakeholders, develop a new brand platform, produce a new advertising campaign, and test the success of the messaging. The result? The new Effortless Revitalization brand and Absolutely Scottsdale ad campaign.
January 2015: Experience Scottsdale’s board of directors approved the rebranding initiative with STRUCK. With its research arm, SMARI, STRUCK conducted a brand audit and competitive analysis for Experience Scottsdale, examining Scottsdale’s past brand materials in the process.
February 2015: SMARI and STRUCK held focus groups with 50 Scottsdale stakeholders.
March 2015: Two-hundred and thirty Scottsdale stakeholders completed online surveys.
April 2015: SMARI hosted focus groups with 80 participants from Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and New York City. They also surveyed more than 1,900 previous and prospective U.S. and Canadian visitors.
June 2015: After analyzing the research, STRUCK and Experience Scottsdale outlined Scottsdale’s audience motivators, brand attributes, brand essence, brand positioning statement, personality, messaging and tone.
August 2015: SMARI tested the new brand position and potential logos to see how they resonated with consumers. The agave logo was the overwhelming choice.
October 2015: STRUCK presented three advertising campaign concepts, as well as a brand guide that outlined the colors, fonts, tones, visuals and logos for the new brand.
January 2016: STRUCK presented the objectives and story boards for the chosen Absolutely Scottsdale campaign.
February 2016: Production crews came to Scottsdale to film Experience Scottsdale’s new television commercial and photograph new print ads.
May 2016: With the brand guide, Experience Scottsdale staff designed and produced all new content for ExperienceScottsdale.com. Experience Scottsdale and STRUCK also finalized the new television and print ads.
June 2016: STRUCK and SMARI conducted consumer testing of the leisure print ads and TV commercial. Results were positive.
September 2016: Experience Scottsdale launched its new brand, ad campaign, website and corporate identity for the public.
During the early stages of its partnership with Experience Scottsdale, STRUCK identified core brand objectives and devised a strategy that became the backbone of the entire creative process. STRUCK Director of Strategic Planning Jennifer Hughes provided insight into how the agency constructs tourism brands like Experience Scottsdale’s.
Q: What was your role in Experience Scottsdale’s brand initiative?
A: Our primary role was to effectively frame the brand challenge and develop a plan for success. The strategy team is typically most active in the early stages of a project, and our work often feels like that of an archeologist, detective and architect.
In the role of archeologist, we review all previous and current work and research. We uncover where the brand has been, understand where/when it has been most successful, and map how needs have evolved. We also work with other interdisciplinary team members to conduct an audit and evaluation of all existing work.
As detectives, we dig in a bit more with our own primary and secondary research by mapping relevant travel trends and conducting stakeholder interviews. In working with Scottsdale, we were fortunate to have access to a wide variety of deeply invested individuals who were extremely valuable in helping us better understand all aspects of the brand. They provided insight into what was necessary to help everyone be successful and how to avoid previous missteps.
This phase also involves an audit of competitor brand materials, communications and plans so we have a clear view of the competitive landscape and visitor perceptions.
Then we move into the architect phase, where we create the brand platform. This is the blueprint and foundation upon which all brand communications are built. It reflects the most relevant visitor motivations and brand attributes and synthesizes it all into our core brand essence and positioning. The platform also outlines the most effective messaging for each of our audience segments.
The strategy team continues to stay involved as STRUCK develops the refreshed brand identity. With Scottsdale, we ensured all the new campaign and communications map to the brand objectives we identified.
Q: How do you uncover key strategic insights for a client?
A: The first rule of strategy is to ask the right questions and to do a lot of listening. In addition to everything outlined above, we were fortunate to be able to do a lot of traveler research on Scottsdale. In collaboration with our research partner SMARI, we conducted several rounds of traveler research, including online surveys and focus groups. We surveyed what potential visitors think about traveling, what their perception were of Scottsdale (and various competitors), and why they may or may not consider Scottsdale an appealing destination. This provided us with a great deal of data used to identify a few key trends. Once those trends were identified, we developed some creative concepts that directly addressed key traveler interests and concerns. We then collected additional research by asking travelers to review the campaign concepts. This affirmed our target visitor had a more positive response to Scottsdale as a destination. The campaign concepts successfully appealed to both rational and emotional drivers that promote greater visitation.
Q: What was it like to work with Experience Scottsdale during the strategy phase?
A: We never underestimate the power of the exceptional client team at Scottsdale. Experience Scottsdale trusted us even when we offered challenging recommendations. But the Experience Scottsdale team always challenged us in return, which pushed us to do even stronger work. This was a partnership we truly valued and appreciated.