Live free and...brand

Travel and tourism campaign slogan attracts not only tourists, but also businesses


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Just over a year after its initial launch, New Hampshire’s “Live Free and…” travel and tourism campaign is expanding across New Hampshire’s Department of Resources and Economic Development, aiming to attract not only vacationers, but businesses to the state.

The “Live Free and …” campaign riffs on the state’s familiar motto, “Live Free or Die,” and features marketing efforts that encourage viewers to “Live Free and Play,” “Live Free and Discover” and “Live Free and Explore” the places that make New Hampshire a top destination for vacationers. The slogan and new logo are part of a larger brand-building effort that’s catching on, not only because of its fill-in-the-blank flexibility, but also because it captures the spirit of New Hampshire.

“A brand is more than just a slogan,” says Lori Harnois, director of the Division of Travel and Tourism Development. “A brand is the whole concept.”

Developing a slogan that captures the New Hampshire brand meant first identifying what people think of when they think about the state. So more than a year before the campaign’s launch, the Division of Travel and Tourism Development surveyed and conducted focus groups with consumers in key demographic markets — New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York — to determine what they thought of New Hampshire.

“The ‘Live Free and …’ slogan really positions New Hampshire as a destination that offers travelers the freedom to get out and do what they want to do"

“It showed that people really perceive New Hampshire as a great place for outdoor recreation,” Harnois says, especially its lakes, mountains, and ocean. There was also strong recognition of the “Live Free or Die” motto. The new campaign marries the two perceptions, with a slogan that evokes freedom and a logo that incorporates mountain and water imagery.

“The ‘Live Free and …’ slogan really positions New Hampshire as a destination that offers travelers the freedom to get out and do what they want to do,” Harnois says. “It provides that connection that goes along with the state’s motto, but also applies it within an experience that ties into that enthusiasm of being on vacation, and living free, and experiencing the great things you can do in New Hampshire.”

The campaign initially launched in April 2012 and included 15-second TV spots featuring people enjoying New Hampshire’s lakes, mountains and beaches, with accompanying text imploring viewers to “Live Free and” play, discover and explore. Those spots ran all summer, and are running again this year.

By the end of this year, we can also expect to see the “Live Free and …” slogan being used in a business context, says DRED Commissioner Jeff Rose.

Connecting the dots

He says one of the beauties of the slogan is its flexibility -- people can be encouraged to “Live Free and” work, do business, grow, shop or any other commerce-related activity.

“From an economic development perspective, I think businesses also appreciate the opportunity to live free and do business,” Rose says. “We pride ourselves on being able to provide a healthy backdrop for businesses to work.”

He adds, “One of the things that’s so distinctive to New Hampshire is that inextricable link between our natural beauty, our travel and tourism, and our healthy economy,” and the slogan serves to connect the dots between them.

DRED is still developing specific plans about how the slogan will be used from an economic perspective, but Rose says he thinks it will “be within how we try to promote the state in a recruitment/retention perspective. I think it resonates well with businesses that are oftentimes feeling as though that government is caving in on them.”

The branding campaign tries to communicate that instead of having a government that suffocates businesses, New Hampshire is a “vibrant state that allows them to flourish, live free and pursue a successful business,” Rose says.

The campaign distills that startup-friendly environment into an easily adaptable slogan, such as “Live Free and Start.”He points to Thumbtack.com’s recently released 2013 Small Business Survey, in which New Hampshire was ranked at the No. 3 best state for small business. It also ranked third nationally for the “overall business-friendliness of its tax code and the ease of understanding and filing taxes,” and rated an A+ for the ease of starting a small business.

'Entrepreneurial nature'

“It helps speak to the entrepreneurial nature of our next generation of job creators,” Rose says.

Rose also envisions working with other economic development entities, such as local chambers of commerce, business incubators, universities and regional planning commissions, in using the slogan.

Doing so would mimic what the Division of Travel and Tourism Development has done in allowing other travel organizations to use the new branding and slogan at no cost.

“We have had a lot of our industry members take the campaign and adapt it to their own marketing efforts,” Harnois says. “I think the whole ‘Live Free and …’ slogan really positions people to adapt that campaign to their own niche portion of travel.”

For instance, Ski NH used the brand platform for a “Live Free and Ski” campaign. The New Hampshire Campground Owners Association adapted the slogan for a “Live Free and Go Camping” treatment.  And in July, the League of N.H. Craftsmen used “Live Free and Shop” to promote its Retail Gallery Fine Craft Trail, which encourages shoppers to visit all of the league’s retail shops.

The fact that “Live Free and” is already being used across the industry is one early sign of its success. Another possible measure of success? Harnois says revenues from the state’s meals and rooms tax continue to grow, which “we hope is partly an indication of our marketing efforts.”

Both Harnois and Rose say they envision the campaign being used for a long time.

“It’s our goal that this campaign will continue on for many years, similar to the ‘I Love New York’ campaign or ‘Pure Michigan,’” Harnois says.

The state is already on its way to making “Live Free and …” similarly ubiquitous.

'One unified message'

“To build the brand you need a lot of different components that are out there that are speaking of this one unified message,” Harnois says. And that unified message is certainly expanding. Last September, the Department of Transportation unveiled updated “Welcome to New Hampshire” road signs featuring the new logo. The new logo also appears on floor mats and door decals at New Hampshire welcome centers, and trade show banners for all four divisions of DRED incorporate the “Live Free And …” campaign.

But as Harnois is quick to point out, the campaign is about more than slogans and logos: It’s an embodiment of what New Hampshire is all about, whether it’s business or travel-related.

“Really, the brand is New Hampshire, and this is the campaign that goes along with it,” she says.

And the New Hampshire brand — captured by the “live free” philosophy — is one that the state wants businesses to know is good for them, too.

“It’s a slogan that allows for the same level of freedom and that ‘Live Free or Die’ mentality,” Rose says.

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