As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed for about the 50th time on May 5, 2012, I noticed that Haiti’s Minister of Tourism, Ms. Stephanie Villedrouin, had announced the logo winner for the branding contest. My heart was full of happiness when I saw the logo that they selected.
Le Ministère du Tourisme d’Haïti choisit son nouveau logo et son nouveau slogan pour une campagne de communication visant à relancer le tourisme de loisir en Haïti.
[The Ministry of Tourism of Haiti chooses its new logo and new slogan for its communications campaign aimed at boosting tourism in Haiti.]
The choublak, a red hibiscus! What a beautiful logo design by Xavier Delatour, I thought. I was incredibly happy about this decision. I was filled with joy, even though my logo didn’t win, because it represented tremendous progress, from the professionalism of the contest to the final decision.
As I scrolled through the post (in French), I scanned…
Le slogan qui a été retenu est “Experience it !” de Diana Pierre-Louis. Ce slogan résume parfaitement l’expérience forte et intense souvent vécue par les visiteurs qui découvrent Haïti pour la première fois. C’est une belle invitation à découvrir par soi-même la multitude des richesses du pays et les sensations intenses qu’elles procurent. C’est une version raccourcie de la proposition originale de Diana qui était – “Experience it yourself!”. Diana est passionnée par Haïti, son art, sa culture, ses plages. Elle aime partager son expérience d’Haïti avec les autres et cette image positive qu’elle véhicule incite d’autres personnes à en faire l’expérience. Lors des campagnes de communication s’adressant aux communautés francophones, créolophones, et hispanophones, ce slogan sera traduit en francais par “L’expérience!”, en créole par “Se la pou’w la”, et en espagnol par “La experiencia”
[The slogan that was chosen is “Experience It!”, by Diana Pierre-Louis. This slogan sums up the powerful and intense experience felt by visitors who discover Haiti for the first time. It is a beautiful invitation to discover for oneself the myriad riches of the country and the intense sensations they provide. This is a shortened version of the Diana’s original proposal of “Experience it yourself”. Diana is passionate about Haiti, its art, its culture, and its beaches. She enjoys sharing her experience in Haiti with others, and the positive image it conveys incites others to experience it. For communication campaigns aimed at Francophone communities, Creole, and Hispanics, that slogan will be translated into French as “L’expérience!”, in Creole “Se la pou'w la”, and in Spanish by “La experiencia”
“Experience it?!?” I screamed in excitement—that was my slogan! At first, I couldn’t believe it. Is it really true?, I thought, reading the announcement over and over. I even went to Google Translator to make sure I was reading it correctly, but there it was—it was my name spelled out, my slogan right in front of my eyes.
I immediately called my husband, followed by my mother, my two biggest fans. They both were overjoyed as I kept repeating, “Can you believe it?!” That moment was very humbling for me; I had never before won a contest of this magnitude, nor had I ever even entered a contest about which I was so passionate.
Soon, I was contacted by the Ministers office and got a heartfelt congratulation from Mr. Martin, who works for the Minister. He informed me that there would be a very special ceremony with the Ministers office, ambassadors to and from Haiti, and President Michel Martelly on June 1, and asked if I could be there. Of course, I said yes, while trying to contain my excitement and remain professional.
June 1 arrived quite quickly. My husband, his mother, my brother-in-law, his friend, and I all landed in Port-au-Prince on May 30. That night, we picked up the invitation cards to the ceremony and I was told that I’d have to make a 2-3 minute speech in front of the audience at the ceremony. Again, while attempting to contain my excitement, I confirmed my presence and my willingness to speak, while beaming from ear to ear.
As we arrived at Karibe Hotel on the evening of the reception, I nervously walked into a beautifully decorated area with the logo and slogan everywhere. There were large, beautiful choublak decorations attached to the trees outside; popup banners with different pictures of Haiti that said “Experience wilderness”, “Experience the South”, “Experience the North”, and more; beautiful choublak pins which we were handed to wear; bags and shirts with the logos on it; and even women with the logo and slong on their dresses. It was truly a beautifu sight, and I encourage you to browse through some of the photos on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheRealHaiti
At the reception, we were welcomed by Ms. Joliceur, the Minister of Tourism’s cabinet member, who had been helpful and friendly to me since the first day I spoke with her before the event. She showed us to our seats and informed me of what to expect in the ceremony. I nervously waited as the ceremony guests arrived, preparing myself for the start of the event. Once it had begun, I repeated to myself, “If you speak from the heart, the words will come naturally…”, which is something my husband always reminds me. I was ready to make my speech and tell Haiti why I chose “Experience it!” as the slogan. A full video of the speech has been posted on my blog: www.TheRealHaiti.com
Xavier and I were each given plaques by President Martelly, and he, his wife, the Minister, and Ms. Joliceur congratulated us each personally. The ceremony ended with a rara band (a high energy, festival band that uses metal instruments and is usually performed in the streets ) as we all danced and celebrated Haiti’s new logo and slogan. Xavier and I were also given hand beaded flags by the president, a treasure I will keep forever! What an incredible experience…
As a writer by profession, there still aren’t enough words for me to describe the entirety of the experience I had with this contest and the trip. The contest was professionally launched online and very easy advertise; it was easy to read and user friendly; the phone call inviting me to the ceremony was genuine, warm, and honest; the hospitality I received once I got to Haiti and at the convention center was unforgettable; the ceremony and the opportunity to be on stage with the Minister and the President of Haiti is impossible for me to describe; the celebration of Haiti and the new logo and slogan was a blast; and the outpouring of support from my blog followers, family, and friends has been amazing.
Thank you to everyone for the support, and thank you to the Minister of Tourism and President Martelly for this opportunity. Haiti is on its way to being a desired tourist destination by many, and once people experience Haiti, the people, food, culture and music, there will be no turning back.
By Diana Pierre-Louis, founder and author of www.TheRealHaiti.com