irons in the fire

We were recently reminded Whitehorse is undergoing a branding exercise. "Really?" we asked. "Who? Mayor Bev Buckway? Ranj Pillai? Doug Graham? Florence Roberts? All of 'em? "And will this be hot iron? Or tats.

We were recently reminded Whitehorse is undergoing a branding exercise.

“Really?” we asked. “Who? Mayor Bev Buckway? Ranj Pillai? Doug Graham? Florence Roberts? All of ‘em?

“And will this be hot iron? Or tats.”

“Funny,” the messenger said.

His face said otherwise.

Branding, apparently, is a serious business for business.

In 2009, during an economic development charette, developing a cohesive city brand ranked right alongside … guess.

C’mon, guess.


Downtown parking. And land development.

That’s right, a cohesive city brand and parking ranked beside land development in Whitehorse.

The issues are easily linked. More about that in a minute.

Having a brand will provide city pitchmen with images and taglines they can use to sell the city to clients, new employees, businesses – whomever they want to draw north.

Currently, there are several in use.

Whitehorse residents came up with the Wilderness City a few years ago, a description out of favour in municipal offices. Apparently wilderness cities do not have Starbucks.

Whitehorse also has the sternwheeler image. And “Striving for Excellence,” which is stamped on some city vehicles.

And so the city has launched its exercise to focus its message and tap public sentiment on the issue.

The initiative will cost $70,000 – $50,000 in cash from the Yukon’s Economic Development Department and $10,000 from city coffers. The city is chipping in another $10,000 in staff effort, Post-It Notes and paperclips.

The goal is to determine whether the lack of a cohesive brand is a problem. Should we have one?

And, if so, what should it be?

Here, the mind reels.

To advance the effort, we’ve drafted a few taglines that we offer, free of charge:

* Come for a year, stay for 20

* Whitehorse: Subsidized living writ large

* Whitehorse: Mine it before you plan it

* Come for the health care

* Bureaucracy is our life

* Beautiful today, but we’re working on that

* Government is Job One

Of course, even if the brand is done right, it will do little to help Whitehorse recruit new residents and businesses in the near term.

The ongoing housing crisis is the biggest impediment to growth.

There is almost no housing for newcomers to buy or rent.

Which makes the most honest tagline for the city a no-brainer:

* Whitehorse: No vacancy

Or, alternatively:

* No room at the inn

After all, that proved a winner for Bethlehem.

Editor’s note: If you have a suggested tagline, submit it to There’s no annoying survey questions to answer and we’ll highlight the best here on this page.

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