To that end, the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce is working with a federal grant to undertake a “Cohesive Marketing & Branding Study.” What that hopes to accomplish is to develop a unified brand identity for businesses in the area to use for marketing. Seems like a simple thing, and one that could be useful for not just the chamber of commerce but for any local business.
But there’s a problem. This area has an identity crisis. Not a big one, but certainly one that constantly gnaws away at efforts to find the right words to define what the area is that we live in and how we present ourselves to the outside world.
Branding this region has never been extremely successful. There have been many attempts over the years. Here are just a few that terms that have been used to identify the area:
Valley of the Inns
Gateway to Vermont
Mount Snow Region
Mount Snow-Haystack Region
Mount Snow Valley
There have also been numerous slogans developed with the hopes of making an impact in the hyper-competitive marketing world of tourism. Two that quickly come to mind are “It’s more Vermont here” and “So much, so near, all year.”
All of them have gained a certain amount of traction over time, and many still have value in the marketplace.
But there hasn’t been that one silver bullet, the one that resonates in traveler’s minds and conjures up a simple picture of a desirable destination.
Other nearby tourist regions have a certain identity, in part because of long-term consistent brand development. Stowe, the Berkshires, and the Adirondacks come to mind, and conjure up a certain image when heard. We haven’t been quite so lucky.
We hope that this current study, facilitated by Arnett Muldrow & Associates, will find that elusive holy grail. We would also like to offer our two cents for the study.
It’s time to retire the “Mount Snow Valley.”
While it’s been the go-to brand identity for the past 15 years, it’s served it’s purpose. It’s also had some divisive effects. Just last week, a conversation was overheard at the local lumber yard about “Mount Snow Valley” versus “Deerfield Valley.” The point of it was that most locals feel they live in the Deerfield Valley, not the Mount Snow Valley.
Even the chamber drew attention to that in the subject line of an email sent to members inviting them to a branding meeting this week.
If the goal is to truly develop a “cohesive” brand identity, “Mount Snow Valley” isn’t it. Everyone needs a brand identity that they can get behind. Mount Snow Valley hasn’t really shown that over time.
We’re not saying drop the words Mount Snow. Far from it, as the resort is currently the biggest player in the local marketing arena, and has long-term name recognition matched by only one other geographic name, the Deerfield Valley.
Those two names have the most history, and use, behind them: Mount Snow and the Deerfield Valley
Deerfield Valley certainly has the history behind it, about two centuries worth. A century ago, the Deerfield Valley was an industrial dynamo that made its living logging the forest, creating wood pulp for down-country factories, and manufacturing wood products locally on an industrial scale. There was a railroad that tied the towns together, with Readsboro being the hub of commerce, industry, and the Hoot, Toot, and Whistle railroad. Mills dotted the rail line from the Hoosac Tunnel in Massachusetts to the edge of Wilmington.
Mount Snow has 60 years of cumulative marketing mass behind it. Like it or not, it is the simplest name to describe to someone where this region is. Try telling someone who doesn’t live in the area where we are, an inevitably Mount Snow will be the one that turns the light bulb on.
Is there any reason why Mount Snow Region and Deerfield Valley can’t be interchangeable?
In the simplest form, “Mount Snow Region” is broad enough and generic enough to envelope anything within an hour’s radius. Think of it as the “big tent of marketing” theory. That could leverage a lot of marketing clout already being used for things like MassMOCA, Manchester, Stratton Mountain, Hermitage/Haystack, Strolling of the Heifers, and anything nearby.
Mount Snow Region, due to the broader nature of the word “region” as opposed to “valley,” also has less negative impact with locals.
The Deerfield Valley, conversely, could be used a little more intimately, as the core area of the broader region. Or, for an entity that may not want to use the words “Mount Snow” in their marketing effort, like The Hermitage/Haystack, Deerfield Valley can be a catchall descriptor that can also cover a wide geographic area. After all, the Deerfield River basin covers four counties over two states. Why not leverage that?
Whatever the results of the current branding study turn out to be, we truly hope that silver bullet can be found. We also urge those involved to pay attention to where that bullet might strike, and who might be hurt by it.