I wondered what Liz McCormack meant with a headline ‘Coast or Cheese’ in the Merimbula News this week. It turns out she is talking about marketing this shire; as she states it 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 Sapphire Coast, tourism and sapphire blue seas that would have more cachet?
A report was requested by Councillor Kristy McBain at a Council meeting on January 16th regarding rebranding of the Bega Valley Shire to the Sapphire Coast Council. She asked that it included financial data and the effectiveness of rebranding in line with the upcoming communications strategy. Cr McBain feels that there is an emotional value attached to the name change which can’t be measured. She says “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”.
Apparently this is not a new idea, it has been discussed for 30 years, originally the previous Imlay Shire suggested it prior to amalgamation, and it was also recommended to the council in 2003 by the Merimbula Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism (as it was then known).
For those property owners in major tourism areas such as Merimbula a rebranding of the Shire could have positive consequences. Interstate buyers may find the Sapphire Coast Council more attractive when considering purchasing a property with the vision of sapphire blue waters, coastal lifestyle and all it promises sea changers, emoted by the brand, rather that the Bega Valley Shire.
Bruce Leaver, chair of Sapphire Coast Tourism felt it important to gauge which brand will work best for the Shire through market research. He 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. With two thirds of our domestic market coming from interstate, regular exposure to the Shire’s name may be limited; any research should test the recognition factor in the name Bega. A successful brand promises a distinctive and exceptional experience.”
Cr McBain would like to gauge if local residents want to change the name via Facebook, the council’s website and through the print media. Any ratepayers in Merimbula who have an opinion should let it be known.