The ‘Grand’ brand has issues in the marketplace |

The ‘Grand’ brand has issues in the marketplace

Patrick Brower

The brand for Grand County is important. It’s good for tourism development and economic development.

What’s good for the Grand brand is good for business in the county. And yet, over the years I’ve watched as chambers of commerce, towns, the county and local resorts have struggled with how to best use the Grand brand.

It’s a tough job. For starters, the word “grand” seems dated, as if it was a word used more frequently in romantic comedies of the 1940s as opposed to up-to-date, cutting-edge, online tourism forums.

As well, it has two meanings. Grand means big and it means great, all at the same time. Which at first seems like a good thing, except that there are times when the grand brand doesn’t work, maybe because of those two meanings, maybe because it feels dated.

There’s another reason the Grand brand doesn’t stick in the minds of the general population, especially when compared to other brands like Vail, Aspen and Summit.

It starts right at the county level where history has shown that even the name of Grand County struggled with a “brand.” That’s because initially this area was named after the river that originates here, which was then called the Grand River. But the official name of the river was later changed to the Colorado River.

And yet, appropriately, the county had already been named Grand County after the name of its great river. Darn. Grand County had a name that was attached to its namesake river that no longer had the same name. Another county in Utah, where Moab is located, had the same problem.

This was more than 100 years ago so, right from the start, a sort of schizophrenic identity confusion set in.

If that wasn’t enough, Grand County has suffered from another bit of branding confusion. Many people think of this place as Middle Park, not necessarily as Grand County. That’s because all of Grand County sits in Middle Park, the name for the geographical feature that is a huge mountain park — between North Park and South Park — in which Grand County sits. Hence you get Middle Park High School and not Grand County high school; although we do have West Grand High School. I admit that sounds better than “West Middle Park High School.”

And then you have Middle Park Health in Grand County — or the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo, etc. I can only imagine people, especially visitors, wondering what exactly is a Middle Park. Is it something in-between the high park and the low park? Is it really something that’s just “in the middle?” It almost makes me think of “middling” park. This sort of identity or “brand” confusion could go on and on.

And yet, in reality, Middle Park is by far the most diverse and interesting of the three high mountain parks in Colorado. The other parks, although beautiful in their own ways, are just really giant valleys hemmed in by mountains all around. Middle Park is really a series of valleys and bowls included within the bigger overall geographical boundary. That boundary is mostly the majestic heights of the horseshoe-shaped curve of the Continental Divide in its eastern-most reach in all of North America.

Sounds grand, doesn’t it? I know Middle Park is grand and Grand County, and I know it’s a big place that really is great. The hard part is branding and naming that says so.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching to anyone wanting to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or

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