FUTURE: Sault Ste. Marie

SSM Visual Identity & Branding

Visual Identity, Branding & Promotional efforts are part of the larger community vision of FutureSSM to build a place where people want to visit, live and do business. 

This is not just about a logo, name or tagline. It is about collectively as a community discovering what truly makes Sault Ste. Marie unique, telling our story, and then building a platform and strategy around it that attracts others who share that vision. 

This exercise to assess, improve and develop the community's current visual identity and promotional efforts comes directly from the Community Adjustment Committee report that states "we need to develop a broad and cohesive community brand and communications strategy that celebrates our strengths, improves community spirit and sells our community to the world at large."

Most cities have strengths or certain competitive advantages, but attraction often fails to lack of communications and marketing. Consequently, cities are increasingly adopting marketing approaches resulting in what is commonly known as 'city marketing'. City marketing is one of the tools used by public and private institutions to improve a city's competitiveness. 

Phase 1

Phase 1 of this process involved broad community consultation to identify Sault Ste. Marie's 'brand story' and 'brand ingredients'. Trajectory was hired through a competitive RFP process to develop those pieces. Click HERE to view the report. 

Phase 2

FutureSSM is currently leading the second phase of this process to build on this work. We have a great opportunity in front of us to enhance our visual identity and create alignment on promotional material that succinctly tells the story of our community. A story that provides not only pride of place for locals, but is open and inclusive, and able to assist with attracting businesses and newcomers.

Through an RFP process evaluated by a steering committee, Scott Thornley + Company has been hired to work with the City of Sault Ste. Marie on the development of a new brand platform. This is a community activity, and as such, consultation and outreach sessions have been and will continue to take place with stakeholders and the community at large. Work conducted to date has included engagement of a wide variety of city leaders, staff and community participants. Together, we've talked about Sault Ste. Marie and the best way to bring our story to life. 

The story of Sault Ste. Marie is about people, ideas, history, geography and innovation and it needs to resonate with both stakeholders and target audiences and be adaptable for tourism, economic development and city building. 

  • Let's focus on youth.
  • Let's build a platform for good news stories.
  • Let's be aspirational. 

Below is a timeline of this process to date:

Spring 2017

Community Adjustment Committee recommends Sault Ste. Marie better promotes our community. "We need to develop a broad and cohesive community brand and communications strategy that celebrates our strengths, improves community spirit and sells our community to the world at large."

May 2017

RFP Process awards Trajectory to update and develop a community development strategy. This project is a direct follow up to the brand related recommendations of the Community Adjustment Committee's recent study and community engagement. 

June 2017

Trajectory begins work to update and develop a community development strategy.

June 2017 - April 2018

Trajectory engages and consults with over 500 participants with 4 workshops, 461 survey responses and 15 one-on-one sessions. 

June 2018

Trajectory presents its final report, 'Sault Ste. Marie Brand Evolution', to City Council. 

September 2018

A Steering Committee is formed comprised of City staff, FutureSSM, Algoma University, Sault College, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, and the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation.  

October 2018

RFP process awards Scott Thornley & Company (STC) to build on Trajectory's report to assess, improve and develop the community's current visual identity and promotional efforts. STC conducts over 15 one-on-one interviews with community leaders and stakeholders. During a series of 2 pop-up sessions at Algoma University and Sault College, and 12 consultation workshops with 150+ participants, STC undertakes a positioning exercise that presents 7 positioning statements (words and imagery) for consideration. The exercise provoked discussion and ultimately aligned stakeholders to the following statements:

  • Sault Ste. Marie is a Meeting Ground.
  • Sault Ste. Marie has Positive Energy.
  • There's a Spirit of Place.

November 2018

Based on stakeholder and community feedback from the areas of exploration, 4 Theme Areas are developed and reviewed with the Steering Committee and stakeholders for feedback. A Competitive Review is also completed by STC to help guide the process. 

January 2019

A Brand Platform is presented to 150+ community members and stakeholders via 11 consultation sessions, several one-on-one meetings and one pop-up session at the Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen Community Centre. 

February, 2019 - present

The Steering Committee is going back and forth with STC to finalize the brand and visual identity based on community feedback. 

Tom Vair, Deputy CAO, Community Services and Enterprise Services speaks to ONNtv about the visual identity and branding process. 



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