Aspen, Snowmass: better together? |

Aspen, Snowmass: better together?

If Aspen-Snowmass can become the Starbucks of ski areas, consumers may flock to local ski slopes like they flock to the coffee company’s green and white logo.

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s new advertising agency, Sterling-Rice Group, presented a “Power of Brands” concept at Thursday’s ACRA community luncheon. Boulder-based Sterling-Rice is also the ad agency for the Aspen Skiing Co., which sponsored the luncheon.

Buddy Ketchner, the agency’s managing director, said his company plans to develop Aspen-Snowmass as one of the “great brands,” giving consumers the same confidence they get when they see a logo such as a Nike swoosh.

“A brand is a promise defined by a consumer’s perception,” Ketchner said. “Aspen-Snowmass is known worldwide, and as a brand it has tremendous potential.”

The Aspen-Snowmass brand, already developed by the Sterling-Rice Group as a black and white logo for Skico and the wintertime campaign phrase, “The difference is night and day,” can help this area stand out from a plethora of Rocky Mountain ski resorts, Ketchner said.

“The difference is the total package: No one has the real town, the real nightlife, the real culture and authenticity,” he said. “In the summer there is mountain life, and more culture with the music. In the winter there are four mountains so there’s something for everyone. The X Games this winter breathed life back in and promoted this area as snowboarder-friendly.”

Ketchner said locals must be all on the same page when promoting the Aspen-Snowmass brand, and the image could take off. Stay Aspen Snowmass President Bill Tomcich said he agrees with the strong image of the two names combined.

“Aspen is a very powerful name, but as a skiing destination, it’s nowhere near as powerful as Aspen-Snowmass,” Tomcich said. “Snowmass has never cracked the Top 10 [in magazine surveys] nor has Aspen, but last year Aspen-Snowmass was No. 2 [in Ski Magazine’s November issue]. It’s because of brand recognition.”

Skico President Pat O’Donnell said at the luncheon that he supports the image overhaul and encouraged the community to participate in the branding of Aspen-Snowmass.

“We don’t have a year to waste,” O’Donnell said. “The destination-resort business is just getting brutal. There’s some pretty aggressive stuff going on.”

At Skico, O’Donnell said departments are regularly scheduled to present ideas about promoting the Aspen-Snowmass brand name. The diligent work put into thinking about the brand name pays off, he said.

“We need to sit down, focus and talk about how to support our businesses through brand architecture,” O’Donnell said. “If it’s not raised to the top of our priority lists, it’s going to be business as usual, and things are going to be the same around here.”

Aspen Chamber Resort Association President Hana Pevny said ideally Sterling-Rice Group will be able to create a similar logo for the chamber, for consistency.

“We can’t use the same logo, but we can do things to make it look seamless,” she said. “That’s the direction we’re going in.”

Pevny said the chamber will take a new marketing plan to the City Council by the end of August.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is]

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