A Historic Story Gets an Alternate Ending
Perched high on the shoulder of Mt. Hood, Timberline Lodge has represented Oregon’s natural splendor, its tradition of timeless handcraft, and historical architecture since it was dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1937. Since then, it has become one of the most renowned jewels of Oregon, attracting two million visitors annually.
In conjunction with the lodge, the ski area was opened in February 1938. Today, thanks to glaciated slopes and cool alpine temperatures, it’s the only North American ski area open year-round. As if this story couldn’t get any sweeter, we were approached by the small but mighty Timberline marketing team a few years ago with a juicy secret: a lift-access bike park was coming. And they needed help creating a new brand. We were honored and over-the-moon excited to assume the position.
When you enter through the mind-bendingly massive front doors of Timberline Lodge it feels like you step back in time. Hand-carved cedar totems deck the hallways, hand-woven curtains adorn towering windows, and hand-smithed chains shroud the stone fireplaces. Though it’s man made, it almost feels as though it sprouted straight from its environment. It melds seamlessly with its surroundings. This is exactly what we set out to achieve with our new bike park branding.
The iconic Timberline logo is recognizable and timeless. We set out to create a brand suite for the bike park that paid homage to its mother logo while boldly standing out from the other bike parks of the Pacific Northwest.
Before we even talked logo, we jumped both feet into research. First, we mapped out market opportunities by juxtaposing competitor bike parks’ marketing strategies and visual identities. From there, it was clear what we needed to do to stand apart from the crowd.
Then, we developed user personas, highlighting five archetypes of Timberline Bike Park users. That way, we ensured that the visual language we created not only mirrored the iconic Timberline logo, but appealed to the visitors of the park as well.
Finally, we did the leg work on SEO opportunity to ensure that the naming structure we suggested went the distance when it came to visibility on search engines.
Then, it all started to come together. Our final major consideration was nodding to Gravity Logic, the leaders in sustainably-minded, progression-conscious, and safety-centered trailbuilders. This is—in the minds of several of our user personas—what sets the Timberline Bike Park apart from the pack.
When we started digging into the brand elements of the historic Timberline Lodge and Ski Resort, we found the original inspiration of the artisans who created decorative elements around the lodge—the beautifully simple Native American iconography drawn in a moon calendar called “The Year in Moons” from the Warm Springs Native Americans. One iconic example is the snow goose weathervane which sits atop the highest point on the lodge and is in fact the logo mark in Timberline’s brand. Continuing this theme for the bike park logo, we looked to the July moon, the month in which lift access mountain biking will open each year. Not only the time of year spoke to us, but flying through the woods on a bike like an eagle is what every avid downhill mountain biker dreams of.
For the visual identity, we couldn’t stop exploring options for the primary mark, colored variations, secondary logos, visual language, brand extensions, and typography.
The final logo we delivered complements the style and tone of the existing Timberline brand and extends to all supporting brand elements, like iconography, signage, and marketing materials.
Inciting both the adrenaline of mounting a two-wheeled steed and the wonder of recreating among naturally stunning scenery steeped in history, the narrative definitively pulls at heartstrings. Drawing parallels between craftsmanship and commitment of Timberline Lodge and the hand-built bike park excites casual tourists, hardcore riders, and everyone in between.
And, in the end, we assure each rider that this journey is only getting bigger and greater with a sharp focus on environmental stewardship, awe-inspiring experiences, and history unfurling before their front tire.
In the End…
The project was put up on a proverbial warehouse shelf for almost five years while legal battles over environmental concerns were fought and put to rest. As word surfaces that plans to break ground on the park are immanent, we have no idea if our work will ultimately be utilized. At publishing, a representative from the marketing department at Timberline was not reached.
~ April Donovan, Partner & Content Director with Blue Collar Agency