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News Room

Branding Utah – Part I of IV

October 01 2013 - 12:27 pm

Rob Baumann came to Utah for college because he could go to school and never be far from skiing. After graduating from University of Utah, he had a thriving career in New York and Florida. Years later, Smith found himself bringing his family to Utah for regular vacations. His wife observed the positive change that came over him while he was there and suggested they find a way to build their lives in Utah.

Baumann’s story isn’t unique, says Vicki Varela, the managing director for the Utah Office of Tourism, Film and Global Branding in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Varela, one of Utah’s foremost branding experts, says many people have been smitten by Utah and decided to relocate to the place where they can work and play hard. Thus, Utah’s “Life Elevated” brand.

“The brand promise is that people can have transcendent experiences here,” Varela explains. “They can have amazing outdoor adventures and really productive work lives. Those things are woven together for a higher quality of life.”

Among Utah’s many recreational offerings are the attractions featured in the Mighty 5™ advertising campaign: Utah’s five national parks. Of course, Varela points out, it doesn’t stop there. Utah also has 43 state parks, seven national monuments, and 14 of the top ski resorts in North America, where as much as 500 inches of powder falls during the winter. It boasts symphonies, theatres, dance companies, and art galleries. Utah is home to the Sundance Film Festival and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Visitors and residents can explore Utah’s rich legacy of culture, from ancient Native American ruins and pioneer monuments to the facilities of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and the expansive Christmas lights on Temple Square. Salt Lake is also host to sports teams like the NBA’s Utah Jazz and the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, as well as the minor league baseball team Salt Lake Bees.

The vibrant, fun scene is matched by the robust business environment of Utah, Varela says. Giants like Adobe, eBay, and Boeing have seen the potential of Utah’s workforce and expanded into the Beehive State, whose nickname even suggests a capacity for hard work and industry. As more and more companies expand into Utah, the accolades pile up. Gallup-Healthways ranked Utah fourthin the nation in terms of wellbeing. Business Facilities ranked Utah the number 1 business climate in the nation, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics put Utah at number 2 in job growth.

Varela’s office is in the process of evaluating the effectiveness of the “Life Elevated” campaign in preparation for creating an integrated global brand for the state. The brand promise has been used consistently with tourists since 2006. Now, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is evaluating its use as a business marketing strategy.
Varela’s office often receives unsolicited emails from people who have visited Utah. “They tell us how they came and spent a week here and they felt like their lives and perspectives had changed,” Varela says. “They had a different relationship with their families, a different view of life, all because of their time here. Some go out of their way to affirm the Life Elevated brand.”

Ryan Kunz, Matthew Simmons, and Ty Kilgore contributed to this post. Ryan, Matt and Ty work for a Utah-based SEO company, where they help businesses find recognition online and lend their skills to clients who need writing, web design, or graphic design.