One of Alberta’s oldest cities, and one of Canada’s smallest, is working hard to remake and reposition itself for growth and prosperity, as it addresses social issues so many cities struggle with. 

Aside from accidentally taking highway 2A on our way from Leduc to Red Deer (another Alberta city with which McKim has worked), the agency was wholly unfamiliar with Wetaskiwin. But when we were engaged to develop the city’s brand platform, its story was all too familiar to us. 

This is a city that struggles with reputation — from persistent negative news coverage and resident pessimism. A city that hasn’t invested in articulating what it has to offer in an engaging way. These challenges are common to many of the communities with which we’ve worked. Our task was to uncover what sets this place apart, and build a new foundation for promoting it.  

McKim participated in the 50-year community visioning process (a consultation initiative undertaken by Stormy Lake Consulting) and immersed ourselves in understanding what makes this place tick and what makes it special. 

Initially our engagement was to develop a new communications platform, and update the graphic standards around the city’s existing logo. But as the community’s desire for real and meaningful change became evident through the visioning consultation, the city’s communications team realized that a new logo would effectively signal that change — so they expanded the scope of their engagement with us.

The challenge was overcoming natural resistance to change, and an affinity to the existing logo representing their water tower — the tallest structure in the city, and the oldest in Canada. McKim informed the case for change by researching and revealing that many communities in Alberta, and across Canada, have water towers and the identities of many of those place are associated with water towers. So Wetaskiwin’s water tower fails to differentiate the city. As well, there were inherent application issues with the current logo (detail lost at small size, poor colour contrast) that even some stakeholders who were resistant to change, could not deny.

Original logo

New logo and positioning line developed by McKim

The new logo’s graphic is a stylized W-A for Wetaskiwin, Alberta. The graphic is representative of an infinity loop to highlight the connectivity of the community, its connection to its history and heritage, its commitment to working together to build a better future, and its deep rooted connection with the land both in rich agricultural heritage, and Indigenous origins that go back many generations. McKim developed a brand platform, a new logo and positioning statement, and a new campaign for promoting the city that launched on June 22, 2021. McKim’s public relations experts also helped prepare Wetaskiwin’s team for the virtual launch, and developed the launch presentation video.

“The honesty and thoughtfulness of the more than 1100 community members who participated in the visioning process was profound. The commitment and passion of the client team and the stakeholders they engaged was inspiring. It was impossible not to share their enthusiasm for what their city could be. They are the foundation for the new brand.”