Branding Shuswap Agriculture: What We've Learned So Far

August 6, 2015

As announced here in July, Grow Shuswap is working with marketing and communications agency Upanup to develop a brand that will provide a coordinated marketing approach for Shuswap’s agricultural products.

Upanup’s recent discovery trip to the Shuswap saw the team criss-crossing the region to speak with a diverse group of growers, producers and retailers. Representing a cross section of the region’s agricultural industry, interviewees – who were provided with a questionnaire tailored to their type of work – candidly shared their challenges, needs and expectations for a unified, Shuswap agriculture brand.

Several themes reoccurred during our interviews, but certainly top of mind for all was the need for a brand that was honest and had the same level of integrity that is exhibited daily by those in the Shuswap agricultural industry.

This means that the brand must be:

  1. Real and true to the word local and Shuswap
  2. Engender trust in its authenticity and quality
  3. Governed to ensure long term integrity

When asked what they associated with Shuswap and, in particular, the region’s agriculture, interviewee’s responses included:

  • Diversity of soil and types of agriculture
  • Green (the Shuswap region has more precipitation than the Okanagan)
  • Lakes
  • Fresh, clean air
  • Fresh, nutritious, safe and local
  • From the earth, natural

Other themes and questions common to interviewees included:

  • The need for consumer education around the true cost of imported food
  • That the brand must work with established programs/logos like organic certification and the BC VQA appellation
  • There is strength in working together, and need for a non-partisan committee
  • How will the brand be governed?
  • How do value added products fit into the brand, how are they evaluated to be “local”?

Identified by interviewees as brands that inspire them, agricultural brands like BCfresh, Ontario Fresh and the Vancouver Island Organic Collective (“Produced organically in the Comox Valley”) were also points of discussion, as were non-agricultural brands like Tourism California.

A special thank-you to our interviewees, and their families who loaned them to us: John MacLeod, Gerald Christie, Kathy Wikkerink, George Green, Peter Askew, Scott DeBoer, Axel and Doris Hvidberg, Rebecca Kneen, Graydon Ratzlaff, Brad DeMille and Hermann and Louise Bruns. Your passion and interest, along with your candour, is greatly appreciated.

The next step in the branding process will be a creative workshop with stakeholders later this summer—more details will be posted here soon.