‘Coast or Cheese’ the headlines on page 4 of the Merimbula News this week blare out. What in heavens does this mean? As Liz McCormack explains Marketing is all about image and it may be up to the ratepayers to choose whether dairying, cheese and bucolic scenes of cows grazing best fits the Bega Valley Shire or is it an image of the coast, tourism and sapphire blue seas that would have more cachet?
Councillor Kristy McBain asked at a Council meeting on January 16th for a report regarding rebranding of the Bega Valley Shire to the Sapphire Coast Council, including financial data and the effectiveness of rebranding in line with the upcoming communications strategy.
The idea of rebranding to Sapphire Coast Council has been discussed previously, originally suggested by the Imlay Shire pre amalgamation in 1980 and then again recommended to the council in 2003 by the Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism (as it was then known).
A rebranding of the shire could have positive consequences for owners selling property, particularly those in the major tourism areas such as Merimbula, Eden, Tura Beach and Bermagui. Prospective buyers from interstate may be more attracted to purchasing a property in the Sapphire Coast Council rather that the Bega Valley Shire , with the vision of sapphire blue waters, coastal lifestyle and all it promises sea changers, emoted by the new brand.
Bruce Leaver, chair of Sapphire Coast Tourism said “The basic branding tenet is that a brand promises an outstanding experience to a desired market. It is what makes the region standout from its competitors and motivates the potential visitor to come…. A successful brand promises a distinctive and exceptional experience.” He suggests that the only way to gauge which brand will work best for the shire is through market research and that as two thirds of our domestic market comes from interstate, regular exposure to the Shire’s name may be limited. Any research should test the recognition factor in the name Bega.
Cr McBain told Liz McCormick “I think there is an emotional value attached to the name change which can’t be measured. We are trying to attract businesses; we are trying to attract industry and we are trying to attract professionals and trying to attract bigger airlines. From my point of view, Sapphire Coast is far more emotive than Bega Valley”. She wants to know if local residents want to change the name and she would gauge it through council’s social media, via Facebook, the council’s website and through the print media. So if you have an opinion on the best name for this shire, now is the time to let it be known.