When I think of the favourite places I’ve visited, they all have one thing in common – energy. It’s something that’s unique, and you feel it differently in each place. In Spain, it’s passionate and romantic. In Italy, it’s familiar and comforting (food!), while in New York you feel their unapologetic pride as a New Yorker.
Sometimes it takes you by surprise, like in Turkey – a place that I could only describe as friendly and welcoming. But for people who have never been, their perception is often entirely out of sync with reality. And it makes sense when your only reference point is what you see on the news – often negative and unconcerned with the true energy of the place. The Territory is in a similar position.
What Territorians know and love about their home, is now out of sync with the way people outside of the Territory view it. Listening to interstate family and friends, they share some common misperceptions about the Territory. They’ll quickly rattle off phrases like “it’s backward and there’s nothing there,“ or “it’s just desert and a big rock.“ Sometimes they’re genuinely surprised there are bitumen roads, reliable electricity, and a tropical Top End. And just like the misperceptions surrounding a place like Turkey, it’s understandable if they’ve never been there. The image they have of the Territory is largely still connected to a 30-year-old movie about a man and some crocodiles.
Visiting the Territory
But just like other places around Australia, the modern Territory has come a long way in 30 years. It is now much, much more than just red dirt, rocks, and crocs. Ask Territorians and they’ll tell you about the boundless opportunities they’ve had there to grow their career or to build a business. They’ll tell you about the fabulous relaxed lifestyle and the sense of community. They’ll tell you about being given a chance to shine because that’s how things happen in the Territory. It’s the spirit of the place that means you hear ‘give it a go’ a lot more than you hear the word ‘no‘.
Ask and they’ll talk about their laidback, care-free attitude – no doubt the result of their short commutes and the fact they have nature’s best on their doorstep for whenever they need to escape and recharge. You’ll hear that it’s anything but backward. In fact, they’re proud of their innovation, diversity, and fresh perspective on doing things. It’s modern and cosmopolitan, with cafés and trendy wine bars that rival Melbourne’s, not to mention festivals and world-class events. And you’ll hear it’s a place where you can have a fast-paced career and still be home in time to watch and appreciate the sunset.
So, why is it so important to change these outside misperceptions? Putting it simply, the Territory needs more people. Just as Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne are bursting at the seams and wrestling with issues associated with too many people, the Territory is facing the consequences of a declining population. It needs a healthy selection of early-career women, mid-and-late-career workers, retirees, and overseas migrants to help its communities thrive, to support business, and offer better services for all Territorians.
And while people still hold these negative misperceptions of the Territory, they will be unlikely to ever consider moving there. Yes, the Territory has fabulous landscapes, remarkable animals, and rich Aboriginal culture, but it also has much, much more. If people knew the whole story – if they knew about all the amazing things Territorians love about the place, the Territory would suddenly have a lot more to offer those looking to upgrade their life. It would appeal to those people who are searching for real work-life balance, who want to get ahead and grow their career but still want to feel connected to their community and the environment around them.
If Territorians don’t tell them, they’ll never know all this is waiting. I’m reminded of an anecdote I heard recently from a colleague who was in Alice Springs around the same time as the FabAlice Festival, when a local proudly stated: “Alice Springs is the gay capital of Australia, everybody knows that!“
Whether that’s true or not, does everybody really know that? Does everybody really know just how progressive and diverse the Territory is, or how accepting and supportive its communities are?
It’s easy to assume that what people know and love about the Territory is obvious to everyone on the outside. But it simply isn’t. And that needs to change. Life in the Territory has been Australia’s best-kept secret, but the time has come to let the world see all the amazing things it has to offer.
This can be done because that’s exactly what New York City did. Faced with the same problem in the late 70s, the city invested in rebranding, and the iconic I Love NY brand was born. It captured the essence of how New Yorkers saw their home, unapologetically proud of everything it had to offer. It became a tool to help them show its best qualities to the world and change outside perceptions of the city.
Changing perceptions isn’t easy and it won’t happen overnight. Just like New York, the Territory needs a little help. And so the new modern Territory story was created and the Territory Boundless Possible was launched – as a brand to bring Territorians together and help them share the modern Territory story with one voice.
The Territory Boundless Possible is not just a logo or slogan. It’s not just a government brand and it’s not a short-lived campaign. It’s a narrative that is the result of extensive research, workshops, and conversations with hundreds of Territorians to capture the real modern Territory energy.
It’s their story and highlights all the things Territorians think make their home special. It showcases their growth and what they truly appreciate while preserving the qualities that make Territorians unique. It heroes their innovation, their connection to the environment and their history, their vision for the future, and the boundless opportunities. And while it aims is to encourage people to live, visit, invest and do business in the Territory – it’s much more than that for Territorians. It defines what it means to be a Territorian, a way for them to harness their positive energy and change misperceptions.
It belongs to all Territorians and they’re inviting others to share in it.