What gives a city its true identity? The capital of Canada is a complex blend of ingredients, such as geography, economy, culture, history, climate and people. As it reaches one million residents this June, Ottawa marks the event by launching a new storytelling initiative based on Ottawa’s Place DNA™: Canada in One City.
Enhancing Ottawa’s reputation
The goal of the Place DNA™ initiative is to enhance Ottawa’s reputation by sharing defined messages through a community of local stakeholders. Storytelling has a powerful influence on people’s perceptions about a place, how much affinity they feel towards it, how desirable they think it is, and how memorable their experiences are. As perceptions change, so does behaviour. Effective storytelling can transform how people feel about and interact with a city like Ottawa.
Defining Ottawa’s identity
To define and develop Ottawa’s Place DNA™, Ottawa Tourism and the City of Ottawa worked with international consultants at Destination Think! Since 2017, the team conducted extensive research, workshops and interviews with community stakeholders and residents to uncover Ottawa’s unique attributes and assets. The resulting brand framework provides resources – such as key messages – that local stakeholders can use when communicating with external audiences including visitors, students and businesses. The goal is to share positive and memorable experiences through storytelling which to help build Ottawa’s reputation as a great place to live, visit, work and play.
Canada in One City
The research summarizes Ottawa’s brand identity as Canada in One City, which fulfils the promise that “Ottawa is where you can connect with Canada’s soul.” Situated at the intersection of three rivers and two cities, it brings together city and nature, English, French and indigenous communities. As residents of Canada’s capital, Ottawans have a unique connection with the rest of the country and the world.
Ottawa’s Brand Themes
Four brand themes were developed to provide direction for Ottawa’s stories. They can be used individually or in combination with each other to share the essence of Ottawa with external audiences:
- Connect with Canada: Ottawa is the only city that represents the entire country, and it’s the perfect place to connect with the essence of Canada. It’s where the country’s past is brought to life through museums, galleries, Parliament and monuments. Indigenous, French, English, along with people from all corners of the world, have created a diverse society that is quintessentially Canadian.
- Canada’s village: Ottawa has the friendliness and accessibility of a village, with the economic and political might of a G7 capital city. Ottawa prides itself on diversity, acceptance and freedom of individuality.
- Joie de vivre: Ottawa residents welcome newcomers and visitors into that intangible experience – the joy of living. They take great pleasure in the beauty of the city, its intimacy, the change of seasons, a delicious meal shared with friends, vibrant events, and the
- Ottawa’s legacy: Canada’s capital is home to changemakers, pioneers and people with far-reaching visions. From policy, economy, and trade to culture, education, healthcare and the environment, fundamental Canadian values become reality in Ottawa.
Communicating Ottawa’s essence
Local businesses and event organizers are encouraged to participate in the storytelling and act as ambassadors for destination development initiatives. A playbook created specifically for this purpose provides examples of how to build a business profile and produce content relevant to the four themes. The combination of marketers, communicators and storytellers will create the strongest message possible to reinforce Ottawa’s reputation as a great place to live, visit, work and play.