Calgary re-branded as the 'Blue Sky City'

A new slogan pays tribute to sunshine, innovation and diversity, according to business and tourism groups

Calgary: Blue Sky City.

That's the new city slogan unveiled by Calgary Economic Development and Tourism Calgary on Wednesday, replacing "Be Part of the Energy," marking the start of a new era of branding.

Strategists with the groups say this new brand is a nod to innovation — Calgary being a city of blue-sky thinking — and one that reflects all Calgarians.

CBC: Representatives from various partner organizations — including Tourism Calgary and Calgary Economic Development — gathered on Wednesday to unveil Calgary's new brand: 'Blue Sky City.' (James Young/CBC)

Representatives from various partner organizations — including Tourism Calgary and Calgary Economic Development — gathered on Wednesday to unveil Calgary's new brand: 'Blue Sky City.' (James Young/CBC)

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The new slogan is also a nod to Calgary being one of the sunniest cities in Canada, which Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady said reflects an important part of the branding process.

"That's the thing about any brand, it needs to be true," said Ady. "And for sure, when it comes to sunshine and blue skies, it's true in Calgary."

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One marketing specialist told CBC News she thinks the new slogan sends a positive message.

AnneMarie Dorland, assistant professor of marketing with Mount Royal University, says the new slogan will likely resonate with more people beyond just the energy sector.

"There is a whole group of humans that still think of Calgary as the western pride and Howdy and Hidy from the Olympics, all the way through to 'Be Part of the Energy,' which never really took hold the way that everyone was hoping that it would," said Dorland.

But when it comes to city slogans, she said it's important to capture qualities that are meaningful to both residents and visitors.

"I think they've done something tricky, which is to capture the future of Calgary while still recognizing what sets Calgary apart as a city, and then dodging some tricky issues at the same time," she said.

"It is quite the tightrope that they've walked."

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The new blue brand was unveiled during a press conference on Wednesday, where representatives from various partner organizations participated in announcing the slogan change.

Joel Cowley, CEO of the Calgary Stampede, says the rebrand also ties into city construction on the Stampede grounds.

"In the new BMO expansion, most of the attention is focused on this 21-metre-tall fireplace that is the largest in Canada, but immediately above that fireplace is a 332-square-metre skylight that was designed specifically to showcase Calgary's beautiful blue skies."

$4.8 million over four years

The new brand has been in development for over two years.

In 2022, city council awarded $1.8 million to Calgary Economic Development (CED) and $3 million to Tourism Calgary to redevelop Calgary's brand, said Brad Parry, CED's chief executive.

Parry said nearly 129 organizations across 26 sectors were engaged through workshops, interviews, focus groups and surveys in order to develop the new brand.

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"The city invested $4.8 million over four years to do the engagement with the research, the strategy, the asset development — which is an incredibly important component to this — as well as the launch and roll out," said Parry.

Parry said embracing the new brand will be an "organic" process for Calgarians, but the city will decide when the "Be Part of the Energy" sign will be removed.

Calgary's past slogan, "Heart of the New West," was launched in 2003 and was promoted until a new slogan, "Be Part of the Energy," was unveiled in 2011. New signs were erected in 2015 to reflect the slogan change.

As for the new brand, CED says announcing the new slogan is only step one, and Calgarians can expect new logos and visual assets to pop up around town in the months to come.

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This article, written by Lily Dupuis, was originally published for CBC News. Header image courtesy of Kyle Brittan/The Weather Network.