The Challenge

Campbell River sought to differentiate itself among more established Vancouver Island destinations and to place residents and stakeholders at the centre of tourism planning.

The Insight

Campbell River is a city of genuine people surrounded by nature. It’s rough around the edges, and that’s a good thing.


Campbell River is a west coast, Canadian city of about 35,000 located on Vancouver Island. It sits on the doorstep of stunning natural surroundings and inspiring adventures. Though the location and tourism experiences are impressive, access to nature is something that virtually every west coast community focuses on. For a successful rebrand, Campbell River needed to define the identity that would differentiate it from the competition.

We began by uncovering local identity. Place DNA® is our collaborative process that gets locals to work together to find the unique stories that resonate with both residents and potential visitors. Essentially, Place DNA® answers the question, “What makes Campbell River, Campbell River?” The outcome is the foundation for all marketing activities, including strategy, promotion, development and branding.

444.3. The SOLUTION

The Place DNA® process concluded that four elements differentiate Campbell River from nearby communities. Unto itself, each element might not be unique, but the combination is.

1. Campbell River is a city nestled in wild nature

2. Campbell River offers city amenities on a small-town scale

3. Campbell River has a living Indigenous culture

4. Campbell River has blue collar roots and its residents are friendly but frank


The resulting brand strategy and creative reflects this positioning and expresses what Campbell River is all about. The logo and colour palette depict the rawness of the surrounding wild nature with a hint of city sophistication. Brand icons (shown among the concept images below) are inspired by west coast Indigenous culture, while the tone of voice chosen for promotion emulates the way local people speak.

We deliberately chose not to create a tagline for Campbell River. We let the city name speak for itself, with the confidence that it will stand out from surrounding tourism powerhouses like Vancouver, Victoria and Tofino.

Since the brand process, the brand has been adopted by the people and integrated into the fabric of the city. The brand has passed the “t-shirt test,” an informal measure we created. We know that we have succeeded when residents wear t-shirts with the city logo on it to show their local pride.