This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”
In recent months I fielded calls from two frustrated CEO’s of DMOs, one in Australia and one in the USA with the same question, “why isn’t anyone supporting our new brand?” Both had launched their brands about 3 years ago and were finding that their DMO was the only organization making reference to the brand. Adding to their frustration was that local partners were continuing to dilute their city’s brand message by not focusing on what they considered to be their brand strengths.
It seems that both brands were originally created by agencies that only engaged a small number of stakeholders in the process. Additionally, the DMOs received nothing more than a logo, tagline and guidelines for correctly using the logo and visual identity. Of course these are important parts of the toolkit, but it takes much more than that.
Both locations are now refreshing the brands by developing more robust brand management tools and stakeholder engagement which include:
- Product development and experience delivery sessions to gain their support of partners in bringing the brand to life;
- Partner guidelines for creatively and correctly communicating and using the brand;
- Brand education coaching for staff, partners and marketing vendors;
- Outreach programs to engage, inform and energize partners to use the brand;
- A comprehensive brand manual to aid current and future staff and partners.
The two DMOs I spoke to could have avoided their brand acceptance problems if their original processes had considered the need to generate stakeholder buy-in and support from the very start of the project. At the heart of the problem was the need to have been more alert to avoiding the narrow confines of considering their brand to being simply a logo and tagline. The reality is that successful place brands demand a highly consultative process and ultimately a comprehensive toolkit and outreach that will enable brand managers to rally the support of partners, stimulate the design of brand experiences and foster synergy from across the community.