For anyone in or interested in the tourism industry to explore issues associated with branding a country, region, destination, attraction, hotel, tour etc

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7 of the Top Destination Brands of 2023

  Visit Maldives Over the past decades, destinations in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean have been the stars in both destination branding and popularity among travelers. And while all the above certainly remain among the world´s most powerful performers in tourism, the World Travel Awards (dubbed “the Oscars of travel”) in 2023 have underscored strong showings outside these traditional areas, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. Here´s a quick rundown of this year´s winners:…

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How brands can manage a travel-industry crisis like coronavirus

Travel isn’t always a bed of roses. There are natural disasters, tainted products, bad actors, data breaches, regional and global viruses, and events big and small that require industries to step up, speak up, and do whatever it takes to care of their employees and customers.  As the coronavirus outbreak tops more than 135,000 in some 140 countries, it’s an appropriate time to offer advice on how to handle an industry crisis. read post

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Cross-border migration and tourism

All across the world - Europe, the United States, Australia, Asia, and elsewhere - immigration and refugees are hot topics. But little attention has been paid to how this issue meshes with the other great mass movement of our era: tourism. An integral part of tourism is the exchange of cultures and the appreciation of the “other”, and the industry is often dependent on "importing” guest workers from abroad, who provide needed services and often also give a sense of the exotic…

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What's behind Costa Rica's new country brand?

Costa Rica’s newly launched country brand, “Essential Costa Rica” (Esencial Costa Rica), centers on a complete image of the country – from its “peaceful, down-to-earth” people who proudly preserve their environment and happily enjoy a high quality of life, to a modern world of technology, trade and commerce, all set in the world’s premier ecotourism destination of rich complete post

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  • Good points, Paul. I just realized we're talking about apples and oranges, though.

    One thing is a slogan or tagline for a destination. Another is your online and offline marketing campaign to raise awareness and drive sales. You have one slogan, of course, and multiple approaches depending on whom you're marketing to.

    I would say that a focused tagline, especially for a smaller place like Warwickshire, works for me. It's an anchor in my overstretched mind. Now I know Warwickshire exists. Then, an effective campaign on different sites, coupled with offline ad & editorial, can expand on the message of that tagline to introduce me to other aspects of Warwickshire.

    Make sense?
  • Jose,
    And, is the objective just to make you remember the place, or to give you enough reasons to want to visit? I would argue that if your interest in Shakespeare was reason enough to visit you would probably already know that Warwickshire is Shakespeare Country? Personally I rarely find one reason compelling enough to visit a place, do you?

    The other point to make is that the more stories a place has to offer as content on the destination website, the more it's likely to attract online searchers. I don't think it is about overloading people with campaign messages. These days, people are active researchers looking for information, inspiration etc.

    The Recife guide I first created as a blog was meant to be a hobby. I never marketed it in any way. The content alone started to generate requests for more information, for tours etc. As a result my audience was self-selecting. Had I identified market segments, bought relevant keywords and done some PR work, this story telling approach would have been even more effective. I am now back in the UK and not actively developing Recife Guide at the moment, still the content is bringing in a consistently level of traffic, which is increasing slowly. I also still get enquiries. This would not happen if I was telling only one story, of that I am certain.
  • I agree with Monique. ;-)

    Seriously, I can assure you guys if there's one thing I'll remember even on my deathbed, it's that Warwickshire is Shakespeare Country. That has been etched into my memory in the "Permanent Albeit Not Immediately Useful" folder... a mere couple of days after the first time I ever heard it. Had the message been more diluted, which oftentimes means "more generic," I doubt I'd remember it even now.
  • I agree with both Paul and Alan, but in different contexts. For national or larger destinations such as New York, a single Big Idea proves too limiting. So there it makes sense to develop customer-oriented messaging appealing to different sectors. In the case of smaller, lesser known destinations such as the individual English counties, however, it may be wise to find one key message ("Shakespeare Country") that people can take away for each destination. In another words, if there's ONE thing we want people to remember about Warwickshire County, what is it? That it's Shakespeare Country.

    I think we are all WAY too bombarded by and overwhelmed with information on a daily basis, what with Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and newsfeeds and blogs to read, etcetera ad nauseam. Our attention spans are getting shorter. Our memories are suffering. Do we really have room in our frazzled brains for more complex messaging on one English county? And how many counties are in the US? And how many provinces in Spain? And cities in Germany? In these cases, I think it makes more sense to focus on the one Unforgettable Message each destination offers.

    Otherwise it will all be a jumble in our minds.
  • Cool Britannia was not a deliberate campaign initially, but a phrase used by a journalist in an American magazine, as I mentioned earlier. It, like tourism and general interest in the UK, was naturally London-centric, and I am not sure there is much chance of getting away from that.

    I disagree that being called 'Cool' makes you 'Uncool', but calling yourself 'Cool' would for sure.

    As for the Single-Focus regional branding idea, I still can't really see the sense in it. In the case of London, do people believe it to be "The Worlds Creative Capital"? For some people it maybe, and that may be a reason to visit. But just as many people, probably the vast majority, do not see it that way and visit for other reasons. They say that the brand exist in the mind of the consumer. For many travelers the brand London is already a firmly established concept. Changing that will not be easy.

    To my mind the job of marketing is to understand how target markets and segments currently perceive London and then develop appropriate campaigns to improve or modify them. In other words a more customer focused approach. And, the single big idea approach, unless it is broad enough to have widespread appeal, just isn't consumer focused, or sensitive to existing perceptions.

    Related to this issue is the fact that brands are not made or changed by one campaign. The brand that already exist in the customers mind is layer upon layer of information from many sources that are gathered over long periods of time. It is for this reason that perceptions are hard to change, and why the icons that trigger memories and associations are so powerful. It is why one big idea just will not resonate with many people. The images of heritage, royalty, pomp and ceremony etc related to London will be far stronger in the minds on many, far stronger than any notion of it being the 'World's Creative Capital'.
  • Hello Fellow-Tripatinos. Daphne and Manolis, thanks for joining in.

    Here's my take on Cool Britannia - a great brand concept which played on the phrase: Rule Britannia but didn't get long-term traction because it was in truth London-centric and not really applicable to most of rural and small town/village Britain. Like most global cities, London isn't Britain, it just happens to be located there. Neither is New York a reflection of the rest of the USA or Paris/France or Sydney/Australia. On the world map these world-class cities might be positioned within their respective countries but in the important mind-map there are located in very different places.

    The second point about 'Cool', is that as soon as you attach the word 'Cool' to anything, it immediately becomes 'Uncool'.

    This now leads to a new discussion point: Should world-class cities re-brand themselves using the independent city-state model of Singapore and develop a single-focus global strategy? So New York brands itself as the 'World's Capital' (it helps when the UN is based there) delegating its sub-brands such as Manhattan, Broadway, Central Park etc to focus on their respective single big brand ideas. While London brands itself as the 'World's Creative Capital' and delegates its sub-brands such as Mayfair, Bond St, Buckingham Palace, East End etc to focus on their big brand ideas. Same goes for Paris, Sydney etc. So the 'Battle of the City-State Brands' takes on a new dimension going forwards into the future.

    Now my take on the world's most valuable country brand: USA, arguably one of the few country brands that follows a single-focus strategy: Home of the American Dream which transcends right down the hierarchy of sub-brands such as New York, Las Vegas, Disneyland etc all conceived and built on the 'American Dream' big brand idea. It is this idea which has sustained Brand USA during one of its darkest periods which the current Chief Brand Architect - Obama - is trying to re-kindle Hope for the future.

    Finally on Brand France, the world's leading tourism destination, and specifically one of its regions: Champagne - which has a single-minded future focus on a single product category - sparkling wine - which drives all three economic elements: tourism, inward investment and exports. The Champagne region is the gold standard in single-focus regional branding.

    Over to you Tripatinos...
  • Hello everyone. A very good debate indeed.

    As a resident of France I have seen the multi-focus strategy work for and against this country's many destinations. France is a diverse country because each region has its own subculture. When traveling from Paris to Marseille you'll see that each region has its own culinary specialty, wine, cheese, slang, and patois, and not to mention a general pride for their region (that can be contagious!). Therefore, a multi-focus strategy is advantageous for national and international destination marketing.

    However, as I was working on a project to promote a particular area in the Paris Region where a single-focus strategy was best, I saw that the different regions were hesitant to collaborate. So, most of the effort that was put in was to eliminate a sense of rivalry and competition. In this case, the key to the single-focus strategy was to create a collaborative image, but the internal and political challenges make the project implementation very slow.

    Britain also has many facets that can appeal to different audiences. I think a single- or multi-focus strategy should be implemented on a case by case basis. I think Warwickshire's decision to use "Shakespeare County" is a great one. Shakespeare is known and loved all around the world, and not only does it reflect its literary roots, but it also evokes notions of history and romance which appeals to a larger public. It may not be on the same level of Cool Britannia, but I think it's effective in assimilating the place in potential visitors' minds.

    Monique - I am interested in hearing about your Discover Paris! project. Please let me know if you would like to collaborate!
  • Hello Fellow Tripatinos - I was intrigued by your comments on Paul's multi-focus brand strategy approach with an eye on sustainability and Alan's single-focused strategy approach based on each destination's unique socio-cultural elements. However, I am not really sure why a destination should choose to follow one of these approaches and not both of these depending on the case and the exact period of time the campaign is taking place.

    In our days, a destination's brand is much more fragile than it used to be in the past allowing periodic events to distract travelers' attention, alter their perception about the place and eventually change their desire to visit it (eg. Greece = Cradle of Western Civilization or a Country on Economic Crisis with Riots taking place almost every day / Thailand = a tropical paradise or a country with social unrest and militia on the streets). Having this in mind, single-focus marketing campaigns should take place to make sure that the destination brand remains attractive.

    Moreover I feel that comparing nation (and global cities with population, size, GDP & promotional budgets equal to small countries) with regional or local branding strategies does not always make sense, since nations (and global cities) traditionally invest more on multi-focus branding approaches (aiming to reflect their efforts for building a balanced economy and at the same time to recycle their visitors' flow into many different types of destinations/districts) while local destinations should be able to compete both internationally & domestically by investing in those very unique elements that differentiate them from the others (eg. Shakespeare/Robin Hood).

    Finally, the major objective of every branding strategy should be to reflect the reality of each destination's local population into its marketing. To my perspective, the Cool Britannia campaign has rather been inspired from the Brits' need to move on at that time than inspiring them to do so.
  • I think that England, Scotland, Ireland and to a lesser extent Wales, already benefit from strong associations in the minds of most of the world's population, and certainly those that can afford to travel. The issue really is, are those associations ones that we need to evolve, to make them more future focused. I would suggest that they do need to be evolved, given that many still think London is regularly still smothered in smog, for example. Cool Britannia was an excellent campaign for this reason. It played to heritage and made it modern. It instilled pride and turned the eccentric English into something interesting. More importantly it actually reached out to people before they travelled, by British fashion and design going on tour in the USA for example. The slogan was fresh and exciting enough to grab headlines the world over, but broad enough to mean different things to different constituents of travelers. I would argue that the legacy of that campaign lives on, but needs now to be built on. I would also suggest that the Cool Britannia campaign was as much a message for Brits as it was for tourists, and inspired a whole generation fashion and product designers. It gave them something to live up to. As one big idea it was great, perhaps less successful was the diffusion of the idea to the regions, definitely room for improvement there.

    As for “Britain, the Innovation Isle”, “England, Home of the World's Language” etc, I am sorry but they just don't really come close to the appeal of "Cool Britannia". Probably, like Cool Britannia the right solution will appear by chance and be latched onto. As I understand it the slogan came from a statement made by an American Journalist in an article for a Magazine, and was then adopted by the media more generally, and policy makers jumped on the bandwagon.

    So, my question would be, "Can we come up with something better than Cool Britannia?"
  • Hello Fellow Tripatinos

    Thank you for your interesting and valuable comments.

    Let's now try and move the discussion a notch up the destination hierarchy to country brand level using Brand Britain as our example. Politically-speaking, however, Britain isn't a single country but a union (United Kingdom) of several countries comprising England, Scotland & Wales. The fourth union member, Northern Ireland, for marketing purposes, co-brands with the Republic of Ireland (Eire) as the 'Island of Ireland'.

    Q: Should Brand Britain continue with its current multi-focus strategy as developed by VisitBritain - the tourism agency - or should it consider an alternative single-focus strategy?

    Currently Brand Britain uses a 3-pronged focus: Dynamic - Timeless - Genuine. Its marketing strategy in the form of global campaigns centre around 5 core themes: dynamic, classic, luxury, generation Y and gay & lesbian.

    The Big Q remains: Will the targetted markets in say a year's time describe Brand Britain as Dynamic, Timeless and Genuine? Or will some of those attributes be associated with its competitors such Brand USA, France or Italy to name just three country brands?

    Here's an alternative single-focus strategy for Brand Britain:

    Welcome to New Britain: The Innovation Isle supported by three of its single-focused sub-brands: England: Home of the World's Language, The United Clandom of Scotland, and Wales: Powered by Greenergy, not forgetting its major regions, counties, cities, resorts and visitor attractions, each focused on their own unique big brand idea.

    Multi-Focus or Single-Focus? Only time will tell.

    Meanwhile, Tripatinos, let's have your comments please
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