Can You Fix Downtown Carleton Place by Rebranding? An Op-Ed



download (7).png

In my life I have seen many businesses come and go. I have watched many change their name or branding and less than a year later the business would close. Don’t get me wrong re-branding does work in some cases, but if you don’t get rid of the dirty bathwater you are not going to go anywhere.


Contrary to what some believe — it just shouldn’t be changing a tagline or a logo and should not be a promotional nor an advertising campaign. That would only offer quick-fix solutions to the problems already at hand. You don’t choose where to shop or buy because of a logo or slogan. Of course marketing is useful in a long-term brand strategy–but it just isn’t enough sometimes as brands and especially downtown areas are built on the product they offer, not just marketing.


A town or city always speaks through the behaviour of its citizens or businesses. Campaigns that just focus on words and images fail, because they don’t change the behaviour. There are no quick fixes and only when change is visible should you start to brand.


So what kind of product do we have to market here in downtown Carleton Place? What makes us worth a special trip to shop or sets us apart from everyone else? Brands are built on product, not just marketing. We need to start working on the reality of what we have or what we can offer on the Main Street first– not the image. You never “roll out” your brand until you can deliver on the promise and frankly, we have a long way to go– and it could take years. Do some merchants have that long?



This was an excellent  opinion by Sarah Cavanagh


 You know I wish everyone well because their success will be Carleton Place’s success but I’m disappointed that the Downtown Carleton Place board doesn’t better represent the actual businesses downtown. There is a real lack of retail representation. It’s all a little one sided in my opinion.

As I commented previously – we will continue to spin our wheels because everyone seems so focused on making a name for themselves or taking down their perceived “opponent” that they do not stop long enough to let an idea come to fruition. There’s no follow through. There’s no unbiased decision making. Money is tossed into things like “rebranding” which seems a little self serving and at the end of the day is just new lipstick on an old pig.

None of the non-glamorous work ever gets done. It takes 5-7 years for real economic change to occur but every 2-4yrs someone is tossing it all and starting again. If you are going to have someone else do it like event planners–well they had better have a damn good track record. So we spin and repeat and spin and repeat. The issues and solutions are pretty simple….what the town needs is an unbiased liaison position to coordinate the efforts of the mayor’s office, council, BIA, Chamber etc…be the mediator and go between and to have one vision and offer consistency despite the changes internally in all these groups.



Online Comments.. 

Micheal Luigi PacittoAs someone who makes a good chunk of my living on rebranding people, (photo, video and graphics) I 100% agree with the statement that a brand starts from the product, and that the brand is there to be a promise.

In our neck of the woods, we spent a few million dollars on beautification of “Old Town” it didn’t do anything as there wasn’t really much different. The promise was there, but not the delivery.

BUT if there was an old downtown experience, then the beautification would be the beacon that would guide shoppers constantly back to the experience.

Best of luck! with so many chefs in the kitchen, and so many different bureaucratic processes that have to be respected and worked within… it’s a huge challenge!



Carleton Place BIA board to enact ‘radical’ changes–Carleton Place Almonte Canadian Gazette

By Tara Gesner



About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

4 responses »

  1. Hi:-

    Maybe they should look at other even smaller places that seem to be successful, example Merville, Westport – you are right you have to offer something that will put people in their car to make a trip to Carleton Place – maybe more of market type atmosphere, more going on downtown, music, excitement, sidewalk sales, use the waterway- attract some of the people from the cottages-

    Just my view – thanks for listening.

    Don Lee ps I love your articles your the best.

    • Don.. according to some I am too old to have the correct opinions… but surely in my 49 years of experience I might have some clue.LOL.. It is so simple to begin– but here everyone is competing with everyone.. so until that stops we are doomed..
      Thanks so much.. HUGGG

  2. Travelled to Carleton Place to see the optometrist, have lunch and then shop. Sound familiar? That’s what we people do, combine things in our visits.

    We got lucky. We went to “The Eating Place” for a take out and then sat in the public patio beside the river. Marvellous. Lucky, because the lady who works at The Eating Place was so genuinely friendly and helpful.

    So recognize that the river is a centrepiece which attracts people and a smile-and-mean-it service will keep them longer and coming back.

    We then went off to shop at best-produce-Freshmart.

    We’ll be back to shop and eat and site see some more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s