Tag: tourism branding

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Visitor Experiences are Still Job #1. Only More so!

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

Product, service and experience delivery are frequently missing from many destination branding strategies, however, in the future their inclusion will be essential to ensure that the place and its DMO remain relevant and competitive. They are also the foundation for establishing and expanding the local economy. This need hasn’t changed with the influence of digitalization, except that there are more channels available to connect with the customer and enhance their experiences.

Wherever visitors are in contact with the destination, the encounters must, to the greatest extent possible, be aligned with its brand promise. DMOs must orchestrate this through their collaboration with government, non-profit and business partners. There can be no gaps between expectations and the reality of the place. Delivering outstanding experiences is more important than ever. A bad experience will spread like wildfire and negatively impact your brand. Without DMO leadership, who will monitor the experiences and expectations?

So much commentary regarding social and digital media speaks of customer-focus and relevance, however they seem to be speaking primarily in terms of communication and not in regard to delivering the core experiences that the place stands for. These same principles should be applied to product development and experience delivery. Given the transparency and depth of information available to consumers, the investment in quality experiences to stimulate positive word of mouth and increased media exposure has never been more acute.  The days of boosterism, over-promising and under-delivering have long gone for places that want to establish sustainable brands.

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

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

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 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

What’s the Difference Between Branding and Marketing?

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

We receive many emails from city leaders, practitioners and students around the world. From time to time we share some of the responses with readers.

I had an email from Sharon at a chamber of commerce on the East Coast of the USA, “Some members of our Board are confused about the difference between branding and marketing a city. I am finding it hard to explain. Can you help me?”

Sharon, your Board members are not alone in their confusion because I often hear discussions where the terms “branding” and “marketing” are mistakenly used interchangeably. They shouldn’t be. There are distinct differences.

City branding provides a framework for organizing, differentiating and focusing around your city’s competitive and distinctive identity to ensure that its messages and experiences are as distinct, compelling, and rewarding as possible. Most importantly, it’s a promise that must be grounded in truth and reality.

Marketing, on the other hand, comprises the processes and actions for communications, product development, pricing, and promotions directed toward facilitating transactions with end customers. It involves deploying and following elements of the brand strategy such as positioning, personality, core experiences and tone of voice.

We can consider branding as long-term and strategic, while marketing is supposed to be strategic (or at least should be), it is usually short-term and mainly tactical.  Brands are distinctive, where marketing isn’t.

You can consider marketing as being a part of branding. Not the other way around. And marketing alone can’t build your city’s brand. In essence, marketing is what enables you to communicate your brand messages or promise to customers, while branding relates to your competitive identity and how you keep the promise.

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

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

How Should You Assess a Destination Tagline?

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

Rarely a week goes by when we don’t see another round of city and destination slogans and taglines announced. Some are pretty good, many are plain lame, insipid and self-congratulatory, and some are just downright infuriating.

A tagline is a word or short phrase that captures the spirit of the brand promise and its essence. It can be a tease, a short descriptor, a call to action or an explanation, and succinctly stated in no more than five words.  Too many destination taglines are simply examples of marketing speak or clichés that do nothing to advance the identity of the place. Many end up with a tagline that is so esoteric that it needs extensive (and expensive) marketing communications to convey its meaning. Few small cities have the marketing budgets to communicate the meaning and relevance of their taglines through advertising.

All tagline options should be tested before they are approved by gauging the reactions of target audiences through research. However, prior to undertaking that research the following filters may be helpful as you initially assess the various options:

  • It captures and dramatizes the brand promise
  • It’s ownable and not the same or similar to other places
  • It hints at a reward, benefit or experience that customers value and can expect
  • It’s short, usually less than five words
  • It works with, and enhances, the logo
  • It’s credible, sustainable and matches the reality of the place
  • It’s easy to remember
  • It does not have negative connotations

In a nutshell, a tagline (and logo) should act as a trigger or cue to aid recall of the positive associations that the place is known for. Too frequently, the power and role of a tagline is
over-emphasized, i.e. no one will respond positively to a tagline and then decide to visit a place if they haven’t also been exposed to other compelling stimuli about the place. Let’s hope that in 2013 we see a lot less of the insipid and self-congratulatory efforts and more well-researched and meaningful taglines.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/3/