Residents respond to the city’s branding exercise

Whitehorse has announced its branding survey has proven popular. More popular than officials may know. While the online survey received more than 600 responses, debate erupted on ArtsNet, a Yukon e-mail discussion list.

Whitehorse has announced its branding survey has proven popular.

More popular than officials may know.

While the online survey received more than 600 responses, debate erupted on ArtsNet, a Yukon e-mail discussion list.

But most of the comments were not positive, except one from a city official.

“I was concerned when I saw the survey,” wrote Laura Hutchinson. “Defining our priorities is a good idea, but I don’t think a change of logo will solve our pressing issues, like creating affordable housing for a broader segment of our demographic and drawing more doctors who will want to stay here.”

Hutchinson has lived in Whitehorse since 2005. The arts community and the town’s terrific people have kept her here, she said.

She is not alone – on both what she likes and dislikes with Whitehorse.

The sense of community and demand for social responsibility has been overwhelming, said Saj Jamal, managing director of the Ontario-based firm tasked with re-branding Whitehorse.

Jamal drafted the survey and will read all the responses and use them to fashion the brand.

“It’s more than a logo,” he said. “That’s just the packaging to what the promise is. It helps guide actions.”

However, Hutchinson has a much more literal understanding of what branding is.

“My understanding of branding is that it functions to help sell something,” she writes.

It’s a fair perception when everyone outside of deep jungles and deserts are inundated each day with logos and slogans convincing us to buy.

“I think if the city wants to sell Whitehorse, it should be imperative to solve its issues first,” Hutchinson continued.

The branding process is not putting the cart before the horse, said Jamal.

“You have to know who you are before you can fix it,” he said.

Two questions on the survey lend themselves to garnering feedback on Whitehorse woes, he says.

One asks to “name three items Whitehorse should improve on.”

The other asks, “what is your vision of Whitehorse,” both five and 20 years from now.

This is where opinions like Hutchinson’s have really come through, said Jamal.

“Inclusive, socially dynamic and innovative,” said one responder.

“Sustainable, but still with room to grow,” said another.

“Incrementally better than it is today,” was another Jamal read out, laughing.

He’s heard more literal things as well, like having a better transit system.

“ But it’s an aspirational thing, a brand,” said Jamal. “I’m not trying to talk about specific issues, because that’s going to happen anyway.”

The survey closes Sunday, but it won’t be the last chance to speak up. Workshops and open houses will ensue.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

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