What comes to mind when you think of Okotoks? The Okotoks Dawgs, Drake Landing or The Big Rock?

Or, maybe it was that gem of a slogan — "There are a number of things to do in Okotoks" —  which was roundly mocked and became the subject of great hilarity on social media after someone spotted it on the side of a C-Train last September in Calgary.

Following all of the publicity the under-whelming phrase garnered, which was part of an award-winning marketing campaign, Okotoks continued with its rebranding process with the help of marketing expert Roger Brooks

It's new slogan — Join The Innovation! — was unveiled today

Regardless of what you think of that new tagline, there are literally dozens and dozens of small towns in Alberta, many you may have never heard of, that try to sum up their cachet in just a few clever — or not — words. 

  • Tell us your favourite, funniest, or most forgettable city or town slogan from Alberta or around the world in the comments section below.

But slogans are not brands, says Brooks, a tourism marketing consultant with a specialty in small towns, who has worked all over the U.S. and in Europe.

Okotoks erratic

The erratic, a boulder moved by glacial action that differs from its surroundings, sits near Okotoks, Alta., and is one of the biggest attractions near the town. (Parks Canada)

'Set yourself apart'

"We know Vulcan for Star Trek, we know Drumheller for dinosaurs, we know Banff for skiing, we know Calgary for the Stampede. So what is it about Okotoks? If you want people to choose you as a place to live, or a place to invest in, you have to set yourself apart," said Brooks.

So, that's exactly what became the question for the town south of Calgary, he says.

Okotoks does have The Big Rock, a glacial erratic that stands unexpectedly on a flat prairie landscape.

"But the challenge with that is once you been, you've been there and done it, now what?" said Brooks. 

A branding exercise is not about tourism, he says. In his team's research, they looked for what makes the town stand out. They discovered that in the town's Drake Landing community, which has won international environmental awards, and the town's LEED certified town hall. Okotoks has also won a number of awards for its ecological water and solar initiatives.

Whether you are wowed by those three words — "Join The innovation" — slogans aren't the silver bullet for marketing a place, says Brooks.

"What is it that puts you on the map? Is it sports? Is it your downtown or is it something else? What is the activity that makes us want to live there or come and visit you?" asks Brooks 

Hit and miss Alberta slogans

Here's a list of some funny, forgettable and memorable city and town mottos from around Alberta: 

  • Bonnyville: "It's Multi-Natural."
  • Bassano: "Best in the West by a Damsite!"
  • Devon: "Biketown Alberta"
  • Hanna: "Worth the drive!"
  • Medicine Hat: "Sunshine State of Mind"
  • Ponoka: "Keep it real"
  • St. Albert: "Cultivate life"
  • Vulcan: "Resistance is Futile" or "Star Trek Capital of Canada"