Picture yourself on vacation driving along winding roads, soaking up the incredible views of the magnificent Royal Gorge in Colorado, and eagerly seeking out the local hotspots, where to stay, and things to do during your time off. You see a billboard along the way that boldly showcases Royal Gorge Rafting, prompting you to make a spontaneous decision to pull out your phone (we’re assuming you’re the passenger here!) and plan your rafting adventure.
Outdoor advertising has a unique way of grabbing attention and making an immediate impact, which is why it is still such a powerful and effective medium for promoting tourism. However, a strategic plan for outdoor advertising that includes location, branding, design, and messaging is essential to maximize the impact and inspire you (or any traveler) to act immediately.
We recently completed an outdoor advertising project for our client Royal Gorge Epic Adventures in Canõn City, Colorado, in the gorgeous Royal Gorge. Royal Gorge Epic Adventures operates all their activities (rafting and ziplines), lodging (luxury cabins, yurts, Airstreams, and tiny homes), restaurant (The Whitewater Bar and Grill), and sales offices within the same area in a location coined “The Adventure Hub” along and around highways 9 and 50.
Royal Gorge Epic Adventures had 20-30 outdoor advertising placements throughout the area, including numerous dusty, sun-faded signs with varying brand logos and artwork, and so many different formats and sizes, including highway and train level billboards, expansive zipline tower signs, main office signs, flag signs, and more. There needed to be a coherent strategy and flow to persuade passing visitors to recognize the brand and entice them to take action.
- Update all the signs with the new visual identities and update the creative.
- Establish continuity of messages with all the different brands and placements.
- When the brands were communicated together, they had an overarching brand architecture and looked like part of the Royal Gorge Epic Adventures brand family.
- Add directions/navigation to artwork where applicable.
- Ensure easy recall and a call to action so people can contact or find the business.
- Build on the main brand proposition of “One Location,” meaning the brands are found all in one place, so vacationers can experience easy planning and travel less from place to place—an important advantage in this region.
- Find ways to measure performance. Outdoor advertising is traditionally measured by impressions, making it difficult to compare its success vs. other marketing media like digital advertising, which has precise measurement.
To tackle this project’s complexity, we completed the following steps with the client:
- Documented the photos of every sign to determine creative updates and sizing for print and production requirements.
- Plotted every sign on a map to determine the best placement for each brand (based on location and direction it was facing) and when to strategically use the parent brand.
- Added new locations where some of the brands had gaps in visibility
- Determined how and where to leverage the “One Location” messaging to feel as though this family of brands is the one-stop for a visitor’s vacation.
- Created new designs that allowed the brands to stand alone or be paired together and look like a family of vacation solutions.
- For easy recall, we added a new simple URL to all billboards that were easy to write down or remember vs. the various longer URLs. This URL is also exclusive to the outdoor ads so that we can track traffic.
- Added QR codes – some of the sign placements were viable for QR code scanning, so we added tracked QR codes. (Tip: use shortcut URLs that help simplify a QR code layout, making it scannable from a longer distance.)
We’re thrilled with the result of these outdoor ads and look forward to vacationers finding their next favorite tourism business in the Royal Gorge!