The long process of “rebranding” at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center is moving forward after programs and ideas were discussed recently by trustees.
Specifics and details are not settled, but the goals for the institution have been laid out to help the BBHC, Cody and its residents.
“Our goal is to be the foremost authority and interpreter of the American West,” said Tim White, the director of content and programing. “That’s pretty audacious, but it’s also not only within our reach, but it could be argued we already are.
“We want the country and the rest of the world to understand that, and look to this institution and Cody as the place you go to learn about the American West.”
One of the concerns that has been pushing the rebranding process has been the sometimes low expectations of visitors, Executive Director Bruce Eldredge said.
“We exceed everyone’s expectations, but we don’t set good expectations coming forward,” he added. “That’s kind of why we’re doing all of this.”
Eldredge says the new marketing/rebranding project, which should answer the question, “Why are people so blown away when they come in, when we haven’t set proper expectations for them to come?” will help bring more people to the institution.
The BBHC is working with Siegel + Gale, a global branding firm that has worked with the Air Force, Walt Disney Co. and Microsoft.
“They are the best in the world,” White said. “They come in and get right down into the DNA of an organization. They don’t push an agenda, they draw the agenda out of the stakeholders. It’s an amazing process to go through.”
Another goal of the marketing and rebranding is to attract more visitors and help support the Cody economy.
Eldredge said it’s estimated that in just payroll and expenses, the BBHC generates at least $30 million annually for the local economy.
“The financial viability of this institution has a direct positive impact on Cody and the whole state of Wyoming, and we take that seriously,” White said. “We want to see the whole economy rise because of the decisions we’re making now.”
In the near future, the BBHC is preparing to open a new exhibit, National Geographic’s Greatest Photographs of the American West.
It will debut Oct. 27 at 10 museums across the U.S. It will be a major exhibit at the BBHC for 2013 and is part of an effort toward partnerships with other national museums, Eldredge said.
More details for the marketing and rebranding process will be available after the trustees meet again in January, Eldredge said.
White says the BBHC isn’t trying to be secretive about its plans during this long process, but officials just “want to get it right.
“Enthusiasm is one of the markers for what we’re doing,” he added. “We are really jazzed about what’s going on here. We know what we want to do and we think the community will be proud of it.”
New BB Museum ‘unforgettable’
The “new” Buffalo Bill Museum has received rave reviews from visitors.
The museum reopened June 13 after it was closed last fall to begin work on a $2.75 million interactive and tech-savvy reinstallation.
Bruce Eldredge, executive director of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, said the most popular part of the new museum has been the “HoloPro” – a life-like projection of Buffalo Bill onto a mist of water at the museum’s entrance.
“It’s something people continue to talk about,” he said of the feature that stars Pete Simpson as Buffalo Bill welcoming visitors to the “his” musuem.
The goal of the new additions was to create a “psycho-emotive experience” for the visitor, connecting the brain with emotional feelings.
Eldredge said one of his favorite stories from the new museum was when a grandmother spent 90 minutes with her grandchildren playing a board game at one of the exhibits.
“She said, ‘They’ll never forget this game and this museum.’
“That’s the psycho-emotive connection,” Eldredge said.
Tim White, BBHC director of content and programing, said that type of reaction is important to the museum as it moves forward.
“It’s an example of the experiential direction we’re trying to go,” he added.
(Nathan Meacham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)