Tag: destination branding

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

Fifteen Common Place Branding Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”

Adopting a city brand offers tremendous rewards if done correctly. However, sometimes these well-meaning efforts introduce levels of complexity and pitfalls which could easily have been avoided if leaders had understood the nuances of brand planning for cities.

Many city branding projects get off to a great start with a lot of publicity and energy, only to soon run out of steam. Their momentum starts to lag, fresh ideas are not as frequent, designs start to miss their mark, and suddenly the brand has faded, it is confused, and becomes very fuzzy to customers and stakeholders. Here are some of the fifteen common pitfalls that can contribute to these situations are:

  1. Insufficient Understanding Of Branding
  2. Lack of Stakeholder Buy-in
  3. Failure to Grasp the Scope of Branding
  4. Focusing On Short-Term Results
  5. Forgetting The Customer’s View
  6. Disagreeing What is Being Branded
  7. Insufficient or Irrelevant Research
  8. The Weak Positioning Trap
  9. Not Following the Strategy
  10. The Lure of “Bright Shiny Objects”
  11. Forgetting to Deliver What You Promise
  12. Unhelpful Mindsets
  13. Brand Fatigue
  14. Going It Alone as a DIY Project
  15. Not Engaging Specialist Skills

This article has been re-posted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Brand Planning Should be the CEO’s Baby

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”.

At the conclusion of a presentation on place branding, I was approached by the CEO of a mid-west Chamber of Commerce who lamented that their brand planning had resulted in a bland and uncompetitive outcome. To my surprise, the CEO went on to take the blame himself by saying, “I made the mistake of delegating the project to our marketing manager and not taking responsibility to drive the process myself.” I’m sure that he hasn’t made the admission within his community or to his Board, but it’s commendable that he recognized this as being a major factor in the brand’s mediocre result.

The president, executive director, or CEO of the organization leading the effort on behalf of the community must be actively engaged in every aspect of the brand planning and development, and breathe vitality into the assignment. We have found that the only way for the brand to take off is having a leader who “gets it” and has the passion, authority, skills and vision to make it work. If he or she takes a passive role, the brand will almost certainly fail.

Understandably, there may be many legitimate distractions that consume the CEO’s time. However, the brand is at the heart of every activity directed toward the way the place will present itself for years to come, so it is worth every minute that he or she can devote to it. While the CEO may want to delegate aspects of the day-to-day management of the process to others, he must remain intimately involved in crafting and managing the strategy.

This article is re-posted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Why are Bland Brands So Common? PART TWO

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”.

As I mentioned in Part One, there are many reasons why destination and place brands can end up being bland and uninteresting. One of the most common causes is sometimes the weak competitive positioning on which the brand is based because of the risk-averse approach preferred by leaders. To get beyond this state, communities need to address the barriers that can prevent them from defining their strongest competitive positioning. These challenges frequently include one or more of the following:

  • Self-interest of key stakeholders and influential groups
  • Insufficient focus on customers and their needs and wants
  • Trying to keep everyone happy
  • The “we’ve got it all” syndrome which is really an excuse for not choosing a point of difference
  • Political interference
  • Parochialism and a lack of objectivity
  • Unfocused and short-sighted thinking
  • Unhelpful mindsets

Then there are many places that choose to by-pass positioning all together because it involves hard decisions and actually standing for something beyond the basic attributes enjoyed by most places. Great place brands emerge when there is focus, consistency, and creativity centered on a unifying, competitive concept that resonates strongly with customers and that competitors can’t easily match. It may sound simple, but achieving this takes courage, leadership and imagination – and tons of selfless teamwork.

Article reposted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Why is a Bland Place Brand the Fast Path to a Non-Brand? – PART ONE

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”

One of the great challenges for many places when it comes to place branding is to not become absolutely boring and bland in an effort to please disparate voices within the community. It’s so easy (and quicker) to just settle on the warm and fuzzy, right?

The task is even harder when the community opts to define the brand themselves without outside help. Problems start to arise when no-one is pushing to move beyond the generic, threshold qualities that every ambitious city must have to play the place marketing game. Too many choose to stop when they reach a concept that pleases a block of stakeholders. Sometimes it’s as trite as the old standby, “a great place to live, work and play” or a variation on that theme.

Too frequently these cities and regions end up with a logo and tagline based on qualities that are irrelevant to external customers or can be easily exceeded by other places. Trying to define a brand that everyone in the community is going to like is a sure-fire path to revealing a bland brand. These brands attract no attention, don’t resonate with markets and are a poor imitation of thousands of other meaningless places.

All successful place brands have an imaginative edge or tension that resonates with target audiences, but may sometimes not be liked by some locals. The important issue to examine is the nature and substance of their dislike. To be different and stand apart in ways that are meaningful can be a challenge for some community leaders. The critical point that they must keep in mind is that the brand is being orchestrated for external audiences to meet specific and sometimes economic objectives.

A strong, sustainable place brand demands leaders who exert strong leadership don’t simply pander to local interests. They must be truly customer-focused and help locals understand the brand and its benefits to them. Diluting the brand in an effort to please vocal locals at the expense of target customers is the best path to a spectacularly bland brand.

Article reposted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Whose Place Brand is it Anyway?

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”

Some time ago I was reminded of the fragility of place brands and how they need to foster deep community roots from the start of their brand planning process. The marketing manager of a small destination marketing organization (DMO) told me that his city had completed a brand strategy during the past two years which had been well received. But with the arrival of a new Executive Director, they had abandoned the strategy. Fortunately, this was not one of our clients.

This discussion brought home to me that from time to time pivotal people who are essential to the vitality of a destination brand move on. They might be the head of the tourism organization, elected officials, board members, staff or key partners. The result can be that their replacement wants to “do things their way”.

For this reason, it’s important from the earliest stages to ensure that there is continuity in understanding, knowledge, energy and support in regard to the brand strategy.  Of course, it goes without saying that community brands for destinations have to be built following a highly consultative and transparent process. The brand does not belong to any one person or organization. And a new Executive Director should not be empowered to arbitrarily reject a strategy that community members and key stakeholders were engaged in for about eight months. The marketing manager told me that there is now deep cynicism among stakeholders and staff toward starting a new brand planning process just two years after the last effort.

A brand strategy is not the same as an advertising or marketing campaign. The advertising should be designed to reflect the brand and will change from time to time. However, the brand should be based on the enduring essence of the place and not be changed as frequently as an advertising theme. It’s a strategic toolkit and needs to be given the opportunity to develop deep roots, resonance and loyalty.

Importantly, a place brand belongs to everyone in the community to a greater or lesser extent. It should never be established in such a way that it is reliant on one individual.

Article reposted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Why Isn’t Anyone Supporting our City Brand?

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.

Article reposted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

When is the Right Time to Rebrand a City?

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”

Some time ago I received a phone call from the convention & visitors bureau of a city we worked for about ten years ago. The Executive Director called to ask about the appropriate time to consider rebranding or repositioning his destination.

My first response was to clarify the difference between rebranding and repositioning. Rebranding involves a process where an outdated or irrelevant brand identity is modified and re-launched with a new focus. In the context of places the term “refresh” might be more appropriate. It’s sort of like a facelift and for consumer goods may include a name change, new logo and colors, new website, updated packaging, point of sale material, a new advertising campaign.

On the other hand, repositioning involves efforts to turn the page on issues that may be necessary to completely change people’s attitudes and perceptions toward the place. It could mean major changes to the features, benefits and experiences presented or targeting new audiences, or both. Repositioning comes with considerable risks.

I conveyed to my CVB collage that when it comes to rebranding his destination, the most common conditions that may necessitate the move may include:

  1. Customer behavior and needs have changed and the city’s products, communications, channels and relationships may need to be tweaked.
  2. Major changes with the city’s experience and product offerings may require a different communications focus.
  3. Perceptions of the city among target audiences may have declined to a point where it is necessary to present a more positive and realistic identity for the place.
  4. Adjusting communications to accommodate major changes within the city such as new infrastructure, high profile events or new experiences.
  5. Consideration as to whether new, formidable competitors have entered the market.
  6. The visual identity including the logo and designs are starting to look dated and could use a refresh or a complete redesign.

If there is a difference in the reality between how the city is projected and the actual experiences and reality of the place, then it’s time for rebranding, or maybe even repositioning.

The decision to initiate a rebranding program should not to be taken lightly as it will have wide implications within the DMO, with its partners and will certainly have an impact on customers. The good news is we will soon initiate a brand audit to assess the city’s current situation and then, as needed, we will assist the city with adjustments to re-align the brand.

Article reposted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketingTourism trends

Tomorrow’s DMOs Must Become Brand Managers

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”

It seems that every other day I see more evidence that the role of destination marketing organizations (DMOs) is under greater threats and challenges than ever before. The diminishing role of print and broadcast advertising, the ready availability of new sources of unbiased destination information and new distribution systems all challenge DMOs to redefine the value that they add for their community. They must not only adjust to reduced budgets, but also avoid the ongoing technological and consumer behavior changes that are totally reshaping the game. Added to that, there are now previously unseen competitors and alternatives that threaten to replace them. Never before has the relevance and role of DMOs been as hotly debated.

It’s not hard to find DMOs that have had their budgets decimated or even worse are closing their doors. In most cases, this is extremely short-termed thinking where the objective has been to balance the City’s bottom line because of shortfalls in taxes and revenue. Cities that are serious about economic development and tourism, and the long term prosperity and growth of their communities need their DMO and the stellar reputation for their city like never before. However, in this environment DMOs must adjust their focus, role and the way that they operate. Specifically, they must become brand managers on behalf of their cities.

These challenges have been addressed by DMAI in its excellent DestinationNEXT Report which provides an important strategic roadmap for DMOs to succeed in the future. The Report reveals three transformational opportunities that DMO have to effectively address in this rapidly changing world. These transformational opportunities are:

  1. Dealing with the new marketplace
  2. Building and protecting the destination brand
  3. Evolving the DMO business model

Recommending that DMOs become brand managers by building and protecting their brand is not new to the TDM team. We have been advocating this for more than a decade.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Why Isn’t Anyone Supporting our City Brand?

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.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Is Place Branding Still Relevant for Cities?

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”

Some time ago I delivered a keynote presentation and the CEO of a city tourism organization approached me and said, “I enjoyed your presentation, but isn’t branding cities obsolete?” He went on to say that he believed that brands are irrelevant and dead because of the digital power that consumers now have at their fingertips. My quick response was: “If brands are irrelevant, then why do brands dominate the digital world and still dominate worldwide stock markets?”

My belief is that today brands and branding are more important for cities and destinations than they have ever been. Let me start by referring to the recently released DestinationNEXT industry report by Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI).

The report concludes that one of the transformational opportunities for DMOs to effectively address their changing world is to build and protect the destination brand. Through this focus DMAI advocates that destination branding is neither obsolete nor irrelevant. After all, Coca Cola, P&G, and Kia still have their very effective brand managers. Destination branding isn’t easy. Many efforts have not been done well and more focus is needed to move beyond logos, taglines and advertising themes.

The digital world has not changed or obsoleted the principles of branding but it has magnified everything we know about building a great brand. The fundamentals and principles of branding haven’t changed, however marketing as we have known it has been largely superseded. This means that how we go about brand communications and brand management have changed.

Brand relevance and success still demands that destinations have meaningful differentiation, outstanding experiences and a robust brand platform to guide everyday programs. The days of trying to be all things to all people are over. And there’s no room for generic and bland brands.

Branding has become a whole lot more exciting because digital platforms open a new world for people to experience your destination. Savvy DMOs are tapping social and mobile networks, smart phones and tablets, GPS apps, and myriad other opportunities to reach consumers globally or when they wander the streets of your city. Not to mention the highly emotional and engaging content they can now deploy through their websites using video, audio, photos and real time comments from customers.

In Part Two, we will consider the opportunities and benefits that a brand management approach will open for DMOs and cities of all sizes.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/