Article in Northern Life - November 2005

Say Yes – Oui to Sudbury – A Positive Branding Concept 

Sometimes something is so obvious as to be almost invisible.  That must have been the case with the current city branding initiative based on the My Sudbury theme and associated website.  The project was outlined to a group of interested citizens a few weeks ago at a special presentation held at Science North that I attended together with a recent new resident to Sudbury, John Gaul, who retired here from Southern Ontario.  We were told about My Sudbury and its French translation Oui Sudbury.  Wait, you say, Oui is not the French translation of My.  Of course not, but Yes is the English translation of Oui and Voila, both John and I said to each other almost in unison, that is what should be used as a branding slogan – YES Sudbury – how obvious.   

But YES, it appeared was a NO.  Surely we must have missed something.  Why not YES, a definite affirmative in light of what we were told research by the branding consultants, hired by the city, had revealed. It seems like only 14 percent of all Canadians have any positive or at least not totally negative feelings about our city.  That means that the remainder or almost 90 percent of our fellow Canadians outside of Sudbury have either a negative or no feelings whatsoever about us.  And even more disturbing was the fact that many of our own citizens apparently do not have any really good feelings about our city either.  It would seem that if ever a community needed a YES campaign, because of all the active and latent negativity it certainly must be Sudbury.  But NO, the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC) says that because of the research findings they would suggest to council that the city embark on a three year reinforcement campaign around the My Sudbury theme and website.  The proposed campaign, the details which were not revealed as they will be developed over time (trust them) will nevertheless cost about $250,000 a year for each of the next three years.  

But let’s go back to the beginning.  If Oui was good enough for the French translation of My (according to the GSDC) why not Yes?  We were told that My Sudbury was the best slogan that their “steering committee” could come up with, and they could not really explain why Oui was the translation for My.  It was apparent we were not going to get much further in this direction, so we decided to survey some out of town and local folks ourselves to see what they preferred – MySudbury or YesSudbury.  The majority, in our admittedly unscientific poll, selected YesSudbury, the main reasons being it was more affirming and somewhat exciting, while MySudbury was limiting and rather boring by comparison. It was also felt that YesSudbury had more marketing potential and development possibilities not only internally, but especially outside the city. We even developed a web presence to see what Yes and Oui Sudbury might look like and you can take a peek yourself at www.minnowlake.ca/YesSudbury.htm.   

Based on our findings, we e-mailed our local elected representatives with the recommendation that perhaps Yes and Oui Sudbury be given some consideration.  Any response?  It appears the research was correct, even our council would rather say No than Yes.  Have you any thoughts on the matter?  If you think we need to say YesSudbury and OuiSudbury and use these slogans as the focus of our new branding initiative, then give your local councillor or the Mayor a call.  Tell them its time we all get a little more positive and say Yes and Oui to Sudbury and to let the world know as well. YesSudbury – I believe – Think of the possibilities.  

John Lindsay 

John Lindsay is Chair of the Sudbury Friendly to Seniors initiative, and host of the Seniors Cable TV/ CKLU Radio and Voice Print Canada Internet Program devoted to Older Adult issues and concerns.