Wishing I’d used KeepVid a week ago, I searched for it elsewhere online.
I didn’t find the Live It Up video, but I did learn that Colorado Springs is “the natural fit” for my family vacation, sporting event, or business conference!
Give a look to this video posted to YouTube in January 2011 by VisitCOS (the same folks who brought you (then took away) Live It Up):
Well, OK! Nature moves to the fore and extends into lifestyle.
Let’s give a quick evaluation, primarily in terms relative to the Live It Up video you can no longer see.
A few positives:
shows off the natural beauty better than Live It Up
includes aerial shots and jib shots that immediately provide more production value than Live It Up
includes active shots that make the place feel far more alive than Live It Up
hits several major local institutions and phenomena missed by Live It Up (Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Open Space, Paint Mines Interpretive Park, USOC, AFA, Broadmoor, Hill Climb, Balloon Classic, Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, etc.)
gives Colorado Springs a one-of-a-kind feeling by definition
touches on regional history and connects it to present
A few negatives:
the music and voice are a bit too slow (don’t convey enough energy)
tries to do too much, selling to families, sporting events, business conventions (should be three separate 1:20 videos)
frequent discrepancies between the words being said and the video being shown (need to SWAP – sync words and pictures)
awkwardly abrupt ending (especially in comparison to the long :30 fade out on Live It Up)
The Bottom Line
As a slogan, The Natural Fit isn’t any more the answer than Live It Up; either would work fine and neither would work distinctively.
As a video, The Natural Fit feels more alive, rugged, vibrant, and exceptional than Live It Up. It does a much better job of showing that living means doing – rather than simply saying it repeatedly and in different ways.
Live It Up would certainly have benefited from extensive re-use of shots seen in The Natural Fit. Related: The Natural Fit could benefit from the skate park shots from Live It Up.
Both videos would convey more life and energy through quicker, more contemporary music, snappier sound from the voiceover artist and other speakers, and a higher cadence overall.
In Colorado Springs, a place I’ve called home for more than 5 years now, community leaders recently gathered and consultants were hired to create a branding campaign for the city. The targets: “residents, tourists, and the business community.”
I love a good internal branding effort – one that gathers stakeholders, is facilitated by an outside party, and results in self-discovered essence and difference. I didn’t balk at the $110,000 price tag, as many have. The fruit:
Brand Essence: Alive
Brand Truth: Living Means Doing
Brand Character: Rugged, Vibrant, and Exceptional
Great! I’m with ’em so far. I can’t say it’s all that unique, but it does fit.
The Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau posted the video on its Facebook page and asked for comments. 22 comments later, the video was removed because the feedback turned ugly (NOTE: I strongly discourage this move – if negative things are being said, you should be hosting that conversation!)
Within 24 hours, a new Facebook page, Rebrand The Springs, was created and calling for another go at the campaign by local artists (NOTE: if local people were not used to create the logo and video, as has been suggested, shame on the CVB!)
If you Google “Colorado Springs” and “Live It Up” – or just ask a handful of random locals – I expect that you’ll find plenty of other mixed and negative reviews.
Bad idea (above): two logos instead of one. Inspiration (below): better than Battle Creek Utilities.
Again, I’m fine with brand process and the resulting essence, truth, and character, but the creative execution needs help.
For the slogan and logo, a visual reference to elevation (either 6,035ft for the city or 14,115ft for Pikes Peak) would help draw a necessary connection. Abandoning a phrase that feels extremely dated (who’s “living it up” in 2011?) by abandoning a slogan or tagline completely would have been perfectly acceptable to me. The mountain should have a much stronger resemblance to the iconic east face of Pikes Peak.
On the upside, the green and purple work for me. The colors fit and are one of the most unique features of the entire effort. They roughed up the peak a little, which implies rugged. The font choice is fine; it’s not especially common and has a little style to it.
As noted in the caption above, I abhor the idea of two logos; a logo is a logo is a logo. It can change and evolve over time, but two logos in use simultaneously is a basic branding no-no. It feels especially disjointed when both appear at the end of the video.
In the video, I see several problems, including:
excessive length (the ending – a long, slow fade of music and logos – reinforces this by lacking any punch)
limited style, dated style (as a radio station might say, it’s “80’s 90’s and Now!”)
poor lighting, inconsistent lighting (dark dog park, overexposed slouching gentleman, blown out Garden of the Gods background, etc)
a too-old-too-often cast, bad makeup (fairly or unfairly referred to by many as a “retirement community” video)
a minority service worker toiling away in the background as two lovely ladies chat about achieving the Peak (really! happens at :45)
an insider and moneyed vibe, as if we’re supposed to know who the people are (I do recognize about a half dozen of them)
the city and landscape do not do enough of their own talking
To that last bullet point: a basic fault of the structure is that there’s too much saying and not enough showing and proving. The worst case is the poor kid forced to call his city “radical.” Though they used to be sufficient, boastful, superlative claims (awesome! exceptional! vibrant!) without clear support are unconvincing (especially when uncomfortably delivered). Despite several good shots and fantastic photos, this too-much-saying problem could not be overcome in the nearly 4 minute presentation.
There are many other subjective issues I have with it, but those are basics.
Stepping back, though, there’s a bigger issue. This video serves no constituency in particular. The desired takeaway is completely unclear. It seems obvious to me that if you have 3 different targets – locals, tourists, and businesses – that you need 3 different videos. Why? Because they each have unique sets of needs! One video will not serve them all and, as a result, will serve no one.
People who live here: great things to know and share, a little lofty – interesting and impressive facts about our landscape, history, and institutions; places to visit and things to do – both ordinary and off the beaten path; specific hiking and biking trails; stuff to brag to your family and friends about
People considering a visit: less lofty and more practical – exactly what a 3 day visit might look like in Colorado Springs; top tourist spots for kids and families; restaurants, shops, and galleries in downtown, Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs; Pikes Peak by road and rail; hiking and biking trails; museums; spots off the beaten path; proximity to Denver; DIA and COS
People and businesses thinking about moving here: very practical, balancing lifestyle with dollars and cents – start the outline with all the top 10 types of awards received from publications like Forbes, Money, Men’s Health, and others; top institutions like the United States Olympic Committee and Olympic Training Center, the United States Air Force Academy, and The Broadmoor; Pikes Peak by road, rail, and trail; top employers like USAA, Memorial Health Systems, Compassion International, and others; a look into neighborhoods and local parks
That’s just a quick, one-pass effort at outlining videos to address the three segments’ specific needs and interests. Obviously, a ton of video would be used in all 3; it’s not a significant, multiplied effort.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Colorado Springs has lots to love. It’s a beautiful place with a great climate, rich history, and good people. I appreciate the effort and agree with the foundational brand concepts generated.
A truly collaborative effort would have been more authentic and better received. Take the brand concepts, share them with locals, then turn them loose on logos, slogans, and videos.
What great content for a stand alone website that body of locally produced work would make!
Of course, a process that open is just as scary as negative Facebook comments.
Spring snow melt is producing seasonal streams down the high east slopes of Pikes Peak. The alpine tundra is greening and blooming. With perfect weather and good, unexpected company, my second round trip hike of Pikes Peak by Barr Trail was the best summit experience yet.
Self-timer near the A-Frame Timberline Shelter, Barr Trail, Pikes Peak
I pulled into the parking lot off Ruxton over the Hydro Plant immediately behind a guy in a Toyota Tundra. As we were both getting our stuff together, he asked if I was heading to the summit and if I’d ever done so. I answered in the affirmative to both questions, prompting his follow-up: can we hike up together. He wasn’t so keen on my idea of starting the hike on the Incline, but he decided it’d provide a good challenge and cool story.
(Aside: committing to spend the entire morning with a complete stranger may seem striking, but it’s not. My rationale: we’re both in the parking lot at the bottom of Barr Trail at 4:45am – we’ve definitely got enough in common to carry 5 or 6 hours of conversation!)
Just like that, Jay and I were headed up the mountain.
We’d probably have made it to Barr Camp a half hour or 45 minutes faster, but Jay tweaked one of his calves on the Incline and it kept seizing up on him. He worked through it nicely and we kept a nice pace the rest of the way.
I love the mountain, the people and the culture of the place, but where Pikes Peak by Barr Trail really gets great is at the Ghost Forest a bit above Barr Camp. Next is the A Frame Timberline Shelter, followed by a climb up to a broad, bouldered bench. For its beautiful alpine tundra and wild granite figures, my favorite part of the hike is around the 3-miles-out mark (progress is all very well marked). Once the trail switches on a long, southerly crossing of the east face of the mountain, you’re treated to a couple nice looks into the 1,500-feet-deep Cirque. A few mouths full of diesel exhaust from the Cog train let you know you’re close to the destination. The “16 Golden Stairs” are the final switchbacks before the summit, where a zoo awaits.
Greening, blooming tundra and granite figures make this my favorite part of Barr Trail, two or three miles shy of the summit.
Jay wasn’t hiking round trip, as he had a 5pm commitment far across town. I hung out at the summit house while Jay lined up a ride down with a family from Kansas City. We thanked each other for what was certainly a mutually positive experience.
The hike down was marked with a nice Father’s Day phone call with my wife, son and father, all of whom are in Michigan at the moment. Passing through Barr Camp, there was a little to-do about a huge black bear that’s been hanging around this spring. I also took a little more time to shoot some photos than I did on the way up (example: the stands of Columbine just above the Fremont Experimental Forest were in the shadows on ascent, but lit on the way down).
It was a fantastic 12-hour day throughout which I became more fond and more familiar with my “home court” hike. Pikes Peak and Barr Trail don’t get much love from the serious hiking and climbing community (my impression), so I’ll share it in abundance. I aspire to return annually, maybe at different times of the season.
I really felt great all day – never weak, tired or sore. That said, I woke up pretty tight on Monday morning!
The summit is not the best part of Pikes Peak. The views are nice, but not nearly as fine as those on many, many other mountain tops or as those from elsewhere on the mountain.
To enjoy the finest part of the experience in a way that doesn’t require as long or high a climb, I recommend you drive to the summit and hike down three or four miles. Sure, you’ll have to hike back up, but you’ll have walked the finest part of Barr Trail.
By starting the hike on the Incline, you knock off a mile or mile and a half in distance and put 2,000 feet of the 7,500 foot climb behind you.
Tomorrow, I’ll day-hike Barr Trail to the summit of Pikes Peak and back down for the second time. This hike, however, already feels different.
My first ascent was undertaken in gleeful ignorance just three weeks after moving to Colorado Springs.
Sure, I knew I’d be hiking about 25 or 26 miles round trip to the top of “America’s Mountain,” the inspiration for the writing of “America the Beautiful.”
Yeah, I knew it would require most of my waking hours that day.
Absolutely, I was up for a walk up through three distinct ecological life zones (Montane, Spruce-fir and alpine).
It wasn’t until I hiked up alongside of JJ, a 20-something from Denver who’s in the Colorado Mountain Club, about 5 miles up that I really understood the accomplishment of day-hiking it. The young man filled me in.
First summit hike of Pikes Peak by Barr Trail, September 2006
Pikes Peak by Barr Trail is marathon-length, the longest approach of any of Colorado’s famed 14ers (+14,000 peaks). It also has the greatest elevation gain of any approach; from the trailhead in Manitou Springs to the summit, you climb approximately 7,500 vertical feet.
Among more than 50 qualifying Colorado peaks, Pikes ranks 30th at 14,110ft above sea level. So, it’s not even close to being the highest.
It’s also not the most technical. In fact, it’s probably the least technical. Barr Trail is a Class 1 walk-up, about as simple a summit hike as you’ll find.
It’s also insanely civilized. To call Barr Trail heavily used is a gross understatement, even by 14er standards. There’s Barr Camp halfway up, where many hikers spend the night, purchase t-shirts, eat a pancake breakfast or pick up a bottled drink. The summit itself is a tourist’s delight, designed to satisfy all those who drive up the Pikes Peak Highway or ride up the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. In addition to a huge gift shop, replete with the requisite “Got Oxygen” t-shirts, summit house offers a snack bar and fresh donut stand. Note: in addition to hiking it, I’ve been up by (rental) car and by cog railway.
So, what’s the difference between my initial go at it and what I’m preparing for tomorrow? I don’t keep a list, but I’d guess I’ve climbed a couple dozen mountains since my day-hike of Pikes Peak. So what’s the big deal?
I’ll call it the mental aspect of endurance. It’s a little more in my head now. I’m thinking too much about it. It’s shaping up as more of a mental challenge than a physical one.
It’s going to be a long day – probably 12 or 13 hours of hiking. I’m going to start before sunrise. I’m certain to have blisters by the end of the day (even though I plan to switch between shoes and boots near treeline).
I’m not going up the much shorter Crags route on the west side of the mountain. I’m not splitting the hike in half with by staying overnight at Barr Camp. I’m not hiking up, then catching a ride back down in a car or on the train.
Instead, I’m heading up as fast as I can, buying a Gatorade in the summit house, seeing how full the parking lot is, then hauling all the way back down and out (the hike down’s different, but it isn’t easy). I’m already wondering how tired and sore I might be as I head in to work on Monday morning.
To feel a little more prepared, I put on my boots and a full pack and did The Inclinethis morning. And to think … last time, I simply decided on a Thursday afternoon that Saturday’s weather looked good, so I should head up that mountain in my back yard.
The Pioneers Museum is dedicated to local history, including the settlement and development of the Colorado Springs area. Its home is the former El Paso County Courthouse; one of the exhibits is a fully restored courtroom. It used to be open from 10am-5pm every day of the week, but the city budget is an absolute wreck. It’s always free to the public and absolutely worth a visit by locals and visitors alike.
The Pioneers Museum in downtown Colorado Springs is housed in the former El Paso County Courthouse
One of my favorite exhibits is “Looming Large: The Artistic Legacy of Pikes Peak,” which was developed during the 2006 bicentennial of Zebulon Montgomery Pike’s expedition up the southwestern slopes of America’s Mountain. It’s a room filled with various artistic renderings of the mountain that now bears Pike’s name. One painting truly stands out from the rest and earns prominent placement.
Entrance to the Looming Large exhibit at the Pioneers Museum
The oil painting is “Pikes Peak 2004” by Tracy Felix, who grew up and worked as an artist in Colorado Springs. Within the past few years, he and his wife, artist Sushe Felix, moved to Denver.
Pikes Peak 2004 by Tracy Felix
Perhaps for my love of mountains, wilderness and trails, I’ve always favored landscape photography and landscape painting over most other artistic forms. Fold in the fact that the artist is local and the subject is Colorado mountains and I’m all in.
The style here is obviously bright, playful and inviting. Though this treatment of Pikes Peak is relatively straightforward, much of his other work is a bit more abstract.
Says what it is. Does what it says. Solves your problem. Exceeds your expectations. That’s all I want in a purchase – how about you?
I really love to hike and to climb mountains. I don’t do it as often as I would like, but I appreciate every opportunity I get.
Several times in fall or spring, I’ve been out in conditions in which snowshoes would have been a serious benefit. I’d casually surveyed the market for several months, never quite serious enough to commit to a purchase. A friend recommended the MSR Lightning Ascent.
MSR Lightning Ascent
It’s a serious product. Cut from aerospace-grade aluminum. Lightest in its class. Heel lift to support steep climbs. A “total traction” design with teeth around the entire frame. In short, it was designed to serve my purpose in an exceptional way. I also expected to have the shoes for decades, perhaps handing them down to my son should he want them.
I probably would not have dropped the full retail price ($260-300); I wanted them, but did not need them. I did, however, find a pair at one of the finest little shops in downtown Colorado Springs, Mountain Chalet. End of season – $105 off. Um, OK.
The MSR Lightning Ascent performed beautifully on hard pack, soft snow, deep powder, ice, steep slopes and all else we encountered. Though only about 3 miles to Sentinel Point, the elevation gain is about 3,000ft. Much of that gain is in the last mile and a half. The heel lift proved to be an extremely valuable feature.
Approaching Sentinel Point on the west side of Pikes Peak
Said what it was. Did what it said. Solved my problem. Exceeded my expectations. That’s what I got in the purchase.
Worth noting: they have a similar similar design at a lower price point in the Denali Ascent and Denali Evo Ascent.