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River District Action Plan

In 2019, at the request of the DIA Board of Management, the Board and City of Owen Sound began a joint venture to create a marketing, branding and action strategy for Downtown Owen Sound. The goals of the project were straightforward: 

Project Outcomes

1.      Refined downtown identity (brand) that captures the story and rallies people together, and

2.      A marketing and action plan to tell that story.

At the request of the DIA Board of Management, the City of Owen Sound initiated the project, outlining to the Board the procurement process on July 10, 2019 and presenting a draft of the RFP to the DIA Board of Management on August 15, 2019

BC Hughes Inc was retained via the RFP process and presented to the DIA Board of Management on February 12, 2020 to kick-off the process. In March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, the DIA Board of Management and City of Owen Sound chose to push forward with the project, understanding that the joint plan would be an important tool moving forward in the recovery process. The project timeline included a revised interview process due to COVID gathering restrictions. 

On behalf of the project team, BC Hughes Inc. produced a virtual launch video to inform members of the project. 

Community Engagement

Extensive community engagement was undertaken to gain insight on the current views of the Downtown and included:

  • Each DIA Board of Management member was interviewed in a workshop setting along with a handful of City staff members to gain input.
  • Key downtown stakeholders as identified by the DIA Board of Management were interviewed in a virtual workshop setting. 
  • 43 DIA Members responded to the unique member survey, distributed via email. 
  • 321 people responded to the community survey distributed via Social Media. 
  • Staff members of BC Hughes Inc. conducted numerous site-visits to the Downtown on multiple days and at different times throughout the week. This included observation, mystery shopping etc. 

Engagement Findings

On Tuesday, September 22, BC Hughes Inc. met with the DIA Board of Management to discuss the findings of the community engagement process. 

The findings provide the framework to move forward with: 

  •    Draft, finalize and present the marketing plan;
  •    Draft brand story, promise and visual style;
  •    Draft logo and tagline;
  •    Draft brand deployment document;
  •    Present final brand; and
  •    Hold training session.

BC Hughes INC. September 22 Presentation to the OSDIA Board of Management. 

Draft Strategy

On Wednesday, November 25, BC Hughes Inc. presented the draft strategy to the DIA Board of Management that identified four pillars that would provide the structure for the strategy. This included: 

  • Branding
  • River District Management
  • River District Experience Development
  • River District Promotion

To support the pillars within the strategy, specific actions would be required to better guide the DIA Board of Management, its members and the City.

Draft Strategy 

River District Action Plan and Branding 

On Wednesday, March 10, BC Hughes Inc gave their final presentation (video) to the DIA Board of Management. This presentation included the branding as well as the final River District Action Plan

The marketing and branding actions within the River District Action Plan, provide practical, achievable, measurable tasks for Owen Sound’s downtown.

The recommended brand will ensure that Owen Sound’s downtown captures its potential and will position the city for future growth and vitality. It will help to ensure that change and growth come from within and expand outwards to increase the overall economic stability and health of the entire community.

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