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Tourism Branding

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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State Sponsored Spin

Here is an interesting video on the subject of Nation Branding and why it does not always work, or as Simon Arnholt puts it, is often a complete waste of taxpayers' money. The story includes interviews with Jeremy Hildreth of Saffron Brand Consultants and Robert Jones of agency Wolff Olins. The argument is that mass-communication marketing campaigns are no way to build a country brand. What do you think?

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Comment by Paul Barnett on September 10, 2010 at 4:09am
There are branded tourist routes in the world - Route 66, The Inca Trail and so on. I think they evolved as brands, and were not designed as such, and I am not sure if they are managed as such even today. I am interested to know why there are not more branded tourist routes. Is this an opportunity being missed?
Comment by Murad Hassan on September 9, 2010 at 5:30pm
What you think of "Maldives, the sunny side of life!" ?
Comment by Max Pesling on September 4, 2010 at 9:47pm
Hi Alan, Wish I'd seen this comment sooner. Totally agree with you about the "Madrid Only Happens in Madrid" being nonsensical. Reminds me of "Andalucia -- There's Only One." Huh??

I like the United Hispanica theme in concept, but wonder how it would actually play out. There is, as you imply, a cultural clash between New and Old World Hispanics, but also among the many different nationalities of New World Hispanics... so an attempt to unite them in one campaign could prove fraught with potential pitfalls, to say the least. But... is it worth a try? I would certainly say so.
Comment by Alan 'Brand' Williamson on August 17, 2010 at 12:45pm
David

Great point about Sporting Spain.
But first BrandSpain has to drop small brand ideas such as campaigns based on 'Smile' and 'Need'. Likewise its capital city - Madrid - with nonsensical campaigns such as 'Madrid Only Happens in Madrid'.

To get the brand debate going here, I would suggest BrandSpain and Madrid start to dig deep within the cultural clash between the Hispanic Old and New Worlds and perhaps build a new United Hispanica starting with a Sporting theme.

What do Tripatinos think?
Comment by David Paul Appell on August 13, 2010 at 10:37am
Excerpts from an interesting item I came across recently on the Grayling PR blog:

Bread and Circuses: Winning the World Cup and the Brand ‘Spain’

"Marketing experts know that there are only 72 hours to maximize momentum and take advantage of the effect of victory on consumer behavior. After that, consumers return to their old pattern and the fact is that with an unemployment rate of 20% and a flat GDP growth, it remains to be seen whether the Spanish start consuming again.

But even if we concede that the world cup has no immediate effect on the economical cycle, the long term effects might be very positive because of the recovery of the brand ‘Spain’ after months of international speculation about a second ‘Greece’.

...the brand ‘Spain’ could win in importance even further, and might eventually become an asset for Spanish companies doing business abroad. Or how bread and circuses do contribute to reputation enhancement and, eventually, to growth."
Comment by Paul Barnett on August 10, 2010 at 3:43am
Looking at the last few comments, and taking account of earlier ones I suggest that a common theme is that any future focused campaigns need to be evolutionary, not revolutionary - an evolving story that people can relate to as it fits existing perceptions. This linking of the past and present to some future focus gives claims credibility. Taking innovation I think that the UK could point to innovation in the heritage of the nation, especially being the country that led the Industrial Revolution, the system of production that now prevails in most of the world. The Heritage of this is of interest to tourists I would suggest, and can be used to promote tourism, but this could be linked to country branding strategies to promote the country as a business destination, if there is justification that this innovation trend continues.

One thing that the Brits are good at is re-inventing the past and presenting it in modern ways, especially in areas such as fashion and design. I am actually in the process of creating a luxury consumer goods brand based on this Heritage Inspired concept.

This linking of past, present and future in campaigns can help avoid confusion and dilution of the message. The Industrial Revolution as part of our tradition and heritage, linked with the message about innovation is the best illustration of this I can think of. The campaign audience might then see the logic in the message.

Alan's comment about past and future rail heritage in Nabraska may work on this level also?
Comment by Alan 'Brand' Williamson on August 10, 2010 at 12:59am
Hello Northeast News

Thanks for starting a new and exciting discussion on State Branding USA:

Michigan
The branding issue here is: Should Michigan have moved from a narrow-focused 'The Great Lakes State' to a wider-focused 'Pure Michigan'? Will 'Pure' survive over the next 2 years or will 'Lakes' prevail?

Nebraska
To find the great state of Nebraska's big brand idea, look for the cultural clashes and collisions.

I'll kick-start the search by looking at the culture clash between rail travel and air travel. Nebraska has a great railroad heritage, culture and infrastructure: Home to the world's largest railroad yard. With the recent announcement that $8billion is to be invested in high-speed rail projects, could Nebraska build a future-focused big brand idea on the renaissance of great railway journeys - for tourism as well as inward investment and exports (ie. new jobs)?

Over to you Tripatinos...
Comment by Northeast News on August 9, 2010 at 5:01pm
USA Today has decided to explain branding:

"A branding success such as Pure Michigan, which has made www.michigan.org the most-visited state tourism website,is "not just a marketing campaign," says Mitch Nichols, a Phoenix-based consultant.

"It repositions the very identity of the state."

Some states have a brand. Maine is lobster and lighthouses, Vermont cows and maple syrup, Florida sea and sunshine. But what is Kansas or Ohio or North Dakota? Tourists want to know. And so, seemingly, do the state's own residents.

That's why state officials hire branding consultants, who try to peer into a state's soul and plumb its psyche in order to grasp its essence, which can be expressed in a catchy slogan, sharp logo and hummable tune."

Did they get it right? And can anyone here brand Nebraska?
Comment by Max Pesling on August 6, 2010 at 12:42pm
Been traveling, missed this conversation!

Great points you bring up, Alan. As for your question re: how best the tourism market could be targetted by the Innovation Isle big brand idea... well, that's a great question. The average tourist is not going to UK for innovation, unless, as Paul points out, they're going for specific events such as Fashion Week... but there are, of course, a great minority. What is cutting-edge about the industry in the UK? Well, the Eurostar comes to mind, but at this point that seems like old news. Any high-speed trains of more recent vintage? Any truly far-out hotels? I can think of the 10-story (I think!) living wall of greenery on the outside of London's Athenaeum hotel as one example of something that's pretty cool, but apart from that one would have to analyze how UK tourism fits into that "innovation" idea.

Personally, I think it's important to be REALLY sure it's wise to shake, stir and dilute the very valid cultural code most people have for the UK -- tradition -- as that already brings many people to your shores. If we send a diametrically opposed message (innovation rather than tradition) are we just going to leave people confused, somewhere in the middle? And dilute a very valid brand?

I'm not an expert -- you guys are -- but the topic is fascinating to me. And it really does seem to me that if a brand is working -- bringing in tourists, in this case -- why dilute it?
Comment by Alan 'Brand' Williamson on August 2, 2010 at 2:56pm
Hello Max & Fellow Triptatinos

Brand Britain
Thanks for the constructive debate and interesting insights. Here are a few more:

1. Video Background Music: You're right, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (MoonSon) wasn't appropriate from a Brit viewpoint. It was just simply free of copyright while most of Britpop such as The Beatles is not. Also MoonSon is great for calming the conscious mind allowing access to the unconscious mind where alot of innovation takes place.

2. Tradition: Depending on one's definition of 'Tradition' there is also a great heritage of British inventive tradition from Charles Darwin to Issac Newton to Michael Faraday right through to modern-day Brits:
- Tim Berners-Lee: Inventor of the World Wide Web
- Jonathon Ive: Apple's principal designer of the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad
- Tim Brown: CEO of California-based IDEO product design co.
- Geoff Kirk: Design engineer for Rolls Royce aero engines for the Airbus A380 and the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- James Dyson: Inventor of the Dyson bagless vacumm cleaner

3. Greenwich Meridian: There is a great advantage for Brits to be able to communicate across much of the world during their normal waking hours.

4. Innovation Isle: This is more about a future-focus rather than an existing perception. Going forwards, BrandBritain needs a new big brand idea to not only compete with the world's most valuable country brand - USA - with arguably the most powerful, single-focused big brand idea: Home of the American Dream, but Britain must also compete with Brand Asia and its sub-brands such as China: The Factory of the World.

The Innovation Isle drives all three elements of the Three Vees: Visibility for Exporters (Visibles and Invisibles), Viability for Investors (Commercial & Residential) and Visitability for Visitors (Business & Leisure).
I would be most interested in getting your views as to how best the tourism market could be targetted by the Innovation Isle big brand idea?

4. Food: Sadly, despite massive improvement in its food offering, BrandBritain still suffers from a bad food image. This is where its sub-brands need to be brought into play - from London the capital to small town Ludlow: Britain's First Slow Food Town, not forgetting Bray, home to two Michelin-star establishments including Heston Bluementhal's Fat Duck, vying with Spain's El Bulli, for the title of the world's best restaurant.
 

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