Tips for Destination Branding
The essence of the destination experience is captured through the branding process and communicated throughout the marketing strategy.
Marketing can be defined as the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives. (Source: American Marketing Association). Marketing’s ultimate goal is to discover and satisfy customers’ needs and desires. The “position” that the brand represents for your community ties to the marketing strategy through the identification of the strengths of the destination and the segmentation of the markets, as each segment will have its own impression of the visitor experience.
The objective of a brand is to develop a unique identity for your destination that is clearly distinguishable from that of your competition. An effective brand creates a positive first impression. By consistently using the brand identity throughout all communication applications, you develop brand awareness, recognition and ultimately create a place in the mind of the consumer that represents positive aspects of the destination.
The branding strategy will take into account all the potential uses for design applications. It will identify how the brand would be compatible for economic development as well as tourism, bearing in mind that the visitor does not distinguish an area by its political boundaries. Consider the brand in the context of tourism, economic development and lifestyle. Developing a destination brand will extend a unified welcome to the target markets regardless of the nature of their interest in the region.
A destination brand needs to be versatile, allowing incorporation of thematic designs with various applications such as signage, maps, folder covers, website, visitor guide, merchandise, advertising campaigns, booth signage, brochures, Internet marketing and other uses.
Brands are built on the strengths of the location, current activities, attractions, destination characteristics and the ability to meet the needs of the market. Elements in a brand include a name, phrase, design or symbol, or a combination thereof. The visual brand will incorporate typeface and colour styles that support the mix of products and services. The brand becomes the symbolic icon that allows the target market to recognize your destination.
Branding name considerations include the following attributes: simplicity; distinctiveness; flexibility; meaning; compatibility with the product and compliance with the laws governing the protection of these. Logo considerations will be universal in nature; they provide visual solutions that will incorporate various activities or sectors. Brands typically have a life cycle that includes growth and decline phases. Building on core elements, brand revitalization will require modifications rather than a complete makeover, retaining the brand equity already established.
The key to effective branding is consistency and repetition; therefore, it is recommended that branding be utilized by all potential stakeholders as appropriate for tourism applications. It is anticipated that local businesses, community groups, business groups, events, etc., will want to utilize the brand. The marketing strategy would address a full suite of communications tools. In order to ensure the branding is incorporated into all proposed solutions, a basic suite of branding deliverables, not just a logo, needs to be included in that initial design to set the standard for future applications.
Positioning refers to the place an offering occupies in the target consumer’s mind on important attributes relative to competitive offerings. In simpler terms, positioning asks and answers the question: What do people think when they think of your destination? The brand promise that a community makes is represented by the icon or logo that delivers that image or impression of the destination. The logo and corresponding photography, colours and text that is written to communicate the visitor experience work collectively to position the community based on its current attributes. The brand promise can only be fulfilled by the community and tourism industry making the commitment of providing the foundation for a positive visitor experience.
Key Destination Attributes
Vital to the branding process is the identification of the key attributes your destination has to offer. Consider both the strengths and weaknesses of your existing attractions (natural and built), activities, accommodation, hospitality of the people and access to the area and region. Ensure all unique selling features have been identified and focus on those that are market ready and in demand.
Canadian Tourism Commission
The Canadian Tourism Commission undertook a re-branding strategy for Canada and, although communities will not embark on a branding process of this calibre, the principles are the same.
Refer to the Brand Canada Toolkit for more information on place branding for tourism. http://www.corporate.canada.travel/en/ca/about_ctc/brandtoolkit/index.html
Applying the Brand Identity to the Communications Suite
The marketing message is the brand promise your destination makes to visitors. Ensure that what is being promoted is what your target audience can expect as a visitor experience. Stay true to the core message and do not oversell your products or community. Identify a “tag line” or slogan that summarizes your community identity. Compile an image bank of still and video images that communicate the brand message through vibrant and compelling images.
Consider the following list for your branding deliverables:
- Logo, word mark, tag line
- Advertising (print, web, billboards, other media to be determined)
- Collateral (visitor guide, maps, rack brochures, posters)
- Graphic Standards Manual
- Image bank – soft-copy PDF thumbnails of signature series of images
- Press kit
- Stationery (see below for further tips)
- Travel / Trade Show Booth
- Video / DVD
- Website integration targeting specific markets: 1) Tourism, 2) Economic Development, 3) Municipality or Regional District
- Others to be determined
Destination Marketing Brand Artwork for “Community Name, BC, Canada”
For marketing communications to tourism markets the following marketing suite is recommended.
Electronic Suite using logo symbol:
- Logo header with and without call to action contact information and URL address for use by designers for various purposes
- Email Signature for Call to Action — Visitor Centre (logo, contact information and link to website)
- Destination/Community Name
- Community Name, BC
- Community Name, BC, Canada
- Community Name, British Columbia, Canada
Call to Action:
ADD: Visitor Centre contact information and URL
Generic Organization Stationery Suite
For correspondence, the following organization stationery suite is recommended.
- Logo header with and without contact information and URL address for electronic use only for Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point
- Working templates in Word format for E-letterhead and Fax template
- Working template — Power Point — Title page and standard page with font selection
- Email Signature (logo, contact information and link to website)
Stationery suite of letterhead, second page matching paper stock, #10 business envelopes, 9×12″ envelopes, 10×13″ envelopes and business cards. Artwork for labels can be used for envelopes instead of printing envelopes. E-letterhead can be used for printing via laser office printer vs. printing colour letterhead. Printed business cards recommended.