Ontario has always had a bit of an identity crisis. In any promotional material or even travel documents, the words "Ontario, CA," have been a source of confusion for decades.

Depending on who you ask, or what website you visit, those two words could either mean it's in California or Canada.

Then there are the stories of people getting off the plane at LA/Ontario International Airport confused by the sunny skies and mountains - realizing they were in California and not Canada. Or someone waiting for a package only to learn it had been delivered to Canada.

When it came time to rebrand the Ontario Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, the issue needed to be addressed, said Michael Krouse, president and CEO of the Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"The visitor was extremely confused between Ontario, Canada and Ontario, Calif. So much to the point that you can't even use the abbreviation CA as an option," said Mary Winter, owner of the Winter Advertising Agency, which was brought in to come up with the new identity.

The rebranding was all to make way for the launch of a national campaign, in July, that will aim to promote the Inland Empire through travel and tourism; meetings, conventions and events, Krouse said.

Prior to coming up with its new slogan and campaign marketing, Krouse knew he needed to rebrand the Ontario Convention Center and Visitors Bureau to create a cohesive brand identity to local, national and at some point, international audiences, he said. As part of the change, it will now be called Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau.


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Winter and Krouse were looking to create a new logo which would go on promotional material - everything from the website to even the URL of the site for the convention and visitors bureau.

To eliminate any confusion, the duo ultimately went with dropping the abbreviation and going with the full spelling of California in the new convention center and visitors bureau logo and material.

That wasn't the only issue Krouse was facing in trying to promote the city.

Just then, Krouse pulls out a binder - the contents of lengthy research - which analyzed everything from the city's use of typography to the branding of the convention center and visitors bureau.

The $15,000 analysis completed in January provided Krouse and Winter the insight they needed to make informed decisions, not only the branding but the marketing of the building and visitors bureau.

"The biggest thing was consistency and ensuring that we weren't letting in our own views guide this. It had to be what we learned from this because this is the way the visitor or someone outside our market viewed us," he said.

One of the findings of the research, which was evident to both Krouse and Winter, was there were too many different logos being used when promoting the building and visitors bureau.

"There was this great confusion, lack of connection to the city. What we tried to do was to make them consistent," Krouse said.

From that, Winter also had to be sure the logo she ultimately designed would still tie into the city of Ontario's logo and maintain that consistency.

The main goal was to modernize the logo. Gone is the presence of red tones in the image of the mountains with the sun in backdrop. The new logo integrates the region's economic engine, the airport. It now includes a swoosh across the word "Ontario," with an image of a plane at the end.

"We were cautious and respectful to the fact that the city has a brand, that brand has been stamped on concrete on some places," Krouse said. "So we didn't want to change that or go too far away from it."