The Squamish branding exercise is the perfect opportunity for pausing amidst raising kids and running a business to think about where our community should be heading. Branding is much more than just about logos and signage. It is about setting the direction for what Squamish should be known for.
Compared to other towns in B.C., Squamish is not a particularly cheap place to live, sandwiched as it is between two of the most expensive places in Canada, and its economy is far from booming. So, what is its attraction then besides the obvious: our surroundings? What should we be aiming for?
The beauty of the global economy is that it provides opportunities to live/work anywhere in the world for a myriad of businesses. This is a very modern development. While many people still migrate out of necessity to where they can find work, there are now places attracting people to LIVE there because of what they offer beyond economics. Squamish is one of those places. Most of the newcomers to Squamish moved here because they want to live here, including myself and my partners, whose business, headquartered here, derives its revenue internationally.
Our brand should be focused on what an amazing place this is to LIVE and to bring your business to. We should be the home of businesses that could be run from anywhere in the world — the Silicon Valley of outdoor-oriented companies such as clothing brands, websites, film production companies, climbing companies, bike manufacturers, ski companies, ad agencies, athletic training centres, etc. “Squamish” should be the most desirable address in the world for outdoor-based companies to headquarter. Companies should want to be based here so they can claim legitimacy in the outdoor world.
If this critical mass were to form, it would grow local business and increase our tax base, it would grow the number of outdoor enthusiasts in Squamish, thereby growing the network of access to the mountains. These companies would naturally photograph, film and promote their surroundings for their marketing initiatives. The trickle-down effect would be that Squamish is promoted for being the home of great businesses that reflect the values of our community and getting free advertising in the process.
I’m all for embracing tourism in Squamish, but let’s face it, going head to head against Vancouver and Whistler at their own game is an uphill battle to say the least. From a tourism perspective, we’ll always live in the shadow of these two juggernauts. This is not to say we can’t capture some of their tourists and make a buck along the way. Tourism is a nice side business for Squamish, but it’s not going to sustain us. Rather than trying to compete with our neighbours in that field, we should differentiate ourselves from them, but leverage their proximity into another great asset.
Creating a gravitational pull for global businesses, large or small, who want to set up shop in a place where they can “live the dream”… that’s the future for Squamish and those are the companies who can employ my children when they come of age.