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Imagine That, Inc

Summit County Colorado Resorts: Digital Marketing and Branding Scorecard

Back in October, the Summit Chamber hosted their ever-popular annual sell-out event to kick off the ski and snowboard season – the COO Breakfast. This year it was held at Copper Mountain’s conference center, and for a new spin on the event, I decided to write a marketing and branding review of our local resorts along with reporting on what’s new at each resort now that they are finally all open for business.

Copper Mountain – Gary Rodgers

Copper Mountain

As the host of the event, Gary was first up on the stage among the ski resort COO’s. As is the tradition, each presenter starts with a high-energy promotional video, primarily a retrospective of last season played to the enthusiastic ski-season-anxious audience. Notably this year, each of the resorts increased their summer activity representation in their videos, reinforcing that summer business is an increasingly important component of our mountain resort community.

Gary gave a shout out to Joel Gratz for his long range forecasts and talked about Powdr (Copper’s parent company) acquiring Eldora Mountain Resort. The most touching moment of Gary’s presentation was his support of Dave Repsher’s release from his year plus hospital stay after being badly burned in the Flight for Life helicopter accident. Gary announced that Dave is looking forward to getting back up to Summit County as his severe injuries slowly heal. His new, hip non-profit organization logo “D/Rep” was part of the slide for Copper events. Donate if you can!

The big marketing news from Copper is their updated and fresh branding. The old “Copper C” was updated a few years ago with the addition of a snowflake. And now Copper has rolled out their new tagline “Raised on Colorado” with a fresh new story and brand positioning. Although early, brand consistency appears strong, with their website, Facebook page, and other social media updated to reflect the new positioning. It looks great and should play well to the thousands of Copper enthusiasts who grew up going to Copper and now can bring their kids and grandkids up to continue the tradition.

Arapahoe Basin – Alan Henceroth

Arapahoe basin The Legend

With “The Legend” celebrating their 70th anniversary this year, the A-Basin team did a great job Incorporated the existing A Basin logo into the 70th anniversary branding. They went into full retro mode with old time photos to help celebrate their long history and heritage of the Basin including the A-frame in its original form and a classic old one-seater chairlift (what a lonely ride!). Their avalanche dogs are always a hit in their photos and videos too. Coincidentally, they are also celebrating their 10th year of Montezuma Bowl (really!?) and completing construction on Arapahoe Sports, tripling the shop’s size. Al joked that compared to Copper, Keystone and Breckenridge, he is the skinny kid in the sandbox.

No worries Al, you guys hold your own beautifully. Brand consistency is a bit mixed with The Legend making its appearance alongside the anniversary logo and the original logo, but the look, feel and experience at The Basin is easily what you’d expect if you only used their online persona as a gauge to the A-Basin experience. The sizing of the 70th anniversary logo on their Facebook page doesn’t quite work, although it looks fine on the actual posts.

Loveland – Rob Goodell

Loveland Ski Area

With his 24th year at Loveland, Rob’s team did a great job of getting the audience psyched for snowfall with their film incorporating the Rolling Stones’ song Start Me Up.

Rob joked that if A-Basin is the skinny kid in the sandbox, they aren’t even IN the sandbox! Although no new branding or major capital investments were added this year, Loveland is enjoying strong pass sales and promoted their on-mountain cabins, which is a very unique offering within the resort scene. The cabins are available with grills and the ability to host an on-mountain picnic during your ski day – cool!

Loveland’s brand is a bit dated – not sure when they last updated their logo. The website has taken on more color, as has their season pass. They go back and forth between “Ski Loveland” and “Loveland Ski Area”. The consistency is lacking but it does fit with their on-mountain experience fairly well – fun and low key.

Keystone – John Buhler

Keystone Resort

Keystone Resort’s COO Mike Goar was on vacation, so John jumped in to finish off the presentations for both Keystone and Breckenridge.

The major message for Keystone for the last seven years has been focused squarely on families. As a matter of fact, Ski Magazine ranked Keystone 4th for families in their latest survey with a strong brand focus on Kidtopia, and of course Ripperoo and all the fun to be had for the kids.

Keystone now has the most free parking of any resort in the county with the addition 200 new free parking spaces in their new Powerline lot. Keystone is also promoting December’s Family Ski Month including their Kidtopia snow fort, Santa visits and Fireworks on the mountain.

The Keystone branding has changed slightly over the past few years, losing the “It’s All Here” and “A Mountain of Possibilities” taglines, so now it’s just a clean Keystone with the familiar snowflake. Kidtopia’s logo on the kids’ goggles with the mountain and flag hat is cute although it’s challenging to associate Kitdtopia with Keystone if you aren’t familiar with the connection. The Keystone Facebook page logo adds a red square, which is not repeated anywhere else I could find, but it does look good on their posts and replies.

Breckenridge – John Buhler

Breckenridge Ski Resort

Launching into Breckenridge’s video, John talked about the design for continued Peak 8 changes with the expansion of Breck Grand Vacations and an ice rink that will be added there and Peak 9’s new restaurant, the Overlook. Peak 7’s new restaurant Pioneer Crossing is targeted to open December 26th in time for the holiday crowds and will feature Mediterranean style cuisine with great views at the top of the Independence Super Chair lift. Unfortunately, this delays opening of Peaks 6 and 7 while construction is finished up. The Village area at the base of Peak 9 is slated for a much-needed plaza area remodel.

Epic Discovery summer is a new central focus including an Ore Bucket Canopy tour, unique hiking signs related to the natural flora and fauna, a Climbing Wall, Ropes Challenge Course and an amazing-sounding zip line that will run between Peaks 8 and 9 over ½ mile long and 483 feet in the air. Sounds like quite a thrill!

The Dew Tour is back this weekend for its 10th Anniversary after it was cancelled temporarily. The team structure is new this year, and although losing the half-pipe due to limited early season snowfall is a bit of a disappointment for those athletes, it looks like the organizers have more than made up for that by filling in all manner of jibs and jumps.

Breckenridge’s brand has remained fairly consistent, also capitalizing on their growing familiarity by shortening the logo from “Breckenridge Ski Resort” to “Breckenridge” and now just “Breck”. The colors making the red and blue skis on the left of the Breck “B” remain on their website, while the sleeker all-black “B” is showing up more often around the resort. They have yet to publish their 2016-2017 trail map so it remains to be seen how their branding plays out there.

Digital Marketing Comparison 2016


Sheri Paul

By Sheri Paul
Imagine That, Inc.
Digital Marketing Director
Frisco Colorado