GUEST COLUMN: Keeping Tahoe blue while businesses add green
Special to the Tribune
“Property rights” is one of the pillars of a capitalist society. One can argue that it is not only a right, but also one’s duty to defend its ownership for the sake of preserving the system. And then, once in a while, one comes across an instance where someone takes “property rights” to an extreme and makes it self-defeating.
The news that League to Save Lake Tahoe is battling local small businesses to prevent them from using the unmistakable logo/message of “Keep Tahoe Blue” is one such instance.
As a career marketer, and someone who now teaches marketing, I know brands need to be defended zealously. In my very first job at Toyota, I recall receiving an 85-page guide focused only on color, font and positioning of text that was permitted under the corporate standards. It is not unusual for companies to spend millions every year building and defending their brands and everything associated with it.
But sometimes, bending the rules a little can enhance the original mission.
Based on my own informal and largely anecdotal survey, I believe almost everyone who sees a rectangular blue sticker with Lake Tahoe’s blue stamp logo on the left and white text on the right is reminded of the league’s “Keep Tahoe Blue” message. And this is regardless of what the words on the sticker might say.
In this lies an opportunity that League to Save Lake Tahoe should capitalize on. Instead of barring local businesses from using anything that resembles their sticker, they should consider encouraging and licensing it for a very nominal fee of, say, $100. By doing so, the league will not only win the support of the local businesses but will significantly add to the millions of blue stickers that have already been distributed. And since each blue sticker with light blue stamp logo and white lettering will have a strong association with the league’s own message of keeping the lake blue, this will only bolster the league’s mission while winning increased support of the community.
If they choose to accept this idea, I would encourage the league to control the colors, the fonts and relative positioning very tightly. And perhaps even insist that the middle word in the three-word-phrase would be “Tahoe”. And let the locals get creative with the rest in how they can support the broader cause while helping their own businesses.
Atul V. Minocha, former chief marketing officer of Eastman Kodak Company, is an associate professor in the department of entrepreneurship and management at Sierra Nevada College.