Ticino Turismo - A Rebranding Journey

In 2018, Ticino Turismo embarked on a great innovation journey that led them to a complete rebranding after 36 years.

We met with the team in Bellinzona at the end of 2018 and we interviewed Kaspar Weber - Provisional Director, Manuela Nicoletti - Marketing Director and Country Manager CH, Mauro Verdone - Project Manager 100%Ticino, Luca Preto - Online Manager, Sandra Dissertori - Content & Product Manager, and Laura Gugelmann - Social Media Manager, to ask them more about this process.

We met with the team in Bellinzona at the end of 2018 and we interviewed Kaspar Weber - Provisional Director, Manuela Nicoletti - Marketing Director and Country Manager CH, Mauro Verdone - Project Manager 100%Ticino, Luca Preto - Online Manager, Sandra Dissertori - Content & Product Manager, and Laura Gugelmann - Social Media Manager, to ask them more about this process.

In 2018, Ticino Turismo, the official DMO of the Ticino Canton, Switzerland, embarked on a great innovation journey that led them to a complete rebranding after 36 years. We met with the team in Bellinzona at the end of 2018 and we interviewed Kaspar Weber - Provisional Director, Manuela Nicoletti - Marketing Director and Country Manager CH, Mauro Verdone - Project Manager 100%Ticino, Luca Preto - Online Manager, Sandra Dissertori - Content & Product Manager, and Laura Gugelmann - Social Media Manager, to ask them more about this process.

In Chapter 4 of the Transformation Series “Shaping the Brand”, we explained that the role of the brand is to define the identity of the destination and to keep consistency in the representation of the destination across all channels. The brand is not only a graphical representation of the place, but it is, first of all, a sum of elements and values that represent the identity of the people, places and attractions you can experience at the destination.

During their lifecycle, tourism destinations reach a maturity stage and need to innovate to rejuvenate the destination and differentiate themselves in a rapidly evolving tourism market. Having a long history as a destination brand can be a strength, for having a strong reputation, but it may also represent a limitation in the ‘innovation race’ against competitors.

Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland, is an example of a very well established destination brand. If we consider that tourism was already promoted at the end of the 19th century, attracting visitors, especially from northern Switzerland, we can understand why this brand is a long-established one.

Ticino - The New Brand

The old brand was consolidated in and out of Switzerland, very iconic and perfectly represented the place with its blue and red colours referring to the lakes and the sun, but it did not fully represent a brand; it was a logo, a visual representation which, through time, was not suitable for the digital activities that are now carried out by the organisation. The DMO decided to opt for a complete rebranding, a bold but necessary decision.

Manuela Nicoletti, Marketing Director of the board, told us about the inclusive process that saw the participation of stakeholders from the entire region, in a brainstorming process to identify the values and the elements that characterise the canton. For this rebranding process, they used a design agency, which helped them, through a design thinking process, in the definition of the new brand.

As Manuela mentioned, Ticino has a variety of offers but lacks an iconic element like the Eiffel Tower or the Matterhorn, but it also has many elements that in its combination make Ticino. These elements are unique experiences that can be lived in Ticino to discover the local people and the territory. These different micro-experiences are what make Ticino unique and are visually represented in the new brand as mosaic tiles that altogether represent the region.

The new logo is therefore shaped by this idea of micro-experiences, as well as by the actual shape of the region and the letter T of Ticino. The yellow, green and blue squares that compose the ‘T’ are the representation of all the experiences that you can live in the region, like the events, the gastronomy, the valleys, etc. and they all have different colours to symbolise the emotions you feel while experiencing them. To further underline the connection to Switzerland, they integrated the Swiss flag, and the ‘n’ of Ticino recalls the Gotthard tunnel, which symbolized the connection of Ticino with northern Switzerland, as the tunnel is the “entrance” to Ticino. The new brand typeface differs from the old logo because it has different versions for different languages. This means it will be easier to target international markets, as well as the Swiss-German market, which is now the most consolidated one and recognises the region as Tessin.

Ticino Turismo’s Digital Strategy Transformation

Ticino Turismo’s digital transformation has been carefully constructed to not only cater to the needs of the current user but the future user. The focus on the future user was a step to avoid stagnation of the brand over the next 30 years, like the previous iteration of the Ticino Turismo brand.

As Luca Preto, Online Manager at Ticino Turismo explained, at the moment, the website is the main channel of Ticino Turismo’s digital strategy. Therefore, content that is created on ticino.ch is then distributed through other channels, such as their newsletter and social media platforms. Their website, ticino.ch, is highly successful, attracting 3 million visitors a year, of which 2 million are unique visitors. The number of views is quite impressive, considering the regional nature of Ticino.

However, Ticino Turismo has made provisions for the future. Ticino Turismo is in the midst of creating projects that have a strong digital footprint, such as the Ticino Ticket, VR and AR initiatives. Therefore, ticino.ch will not be the main strategy, but one of many elements. The reason for the change of priorities stems from the prediction that in the future, e.g. due to the rise of virtual home assistants, such as Google Home. Hence the importance of incorporating other streams into the strategy to overcome the weakening of their main touchpoint.

There is the issue that a large number of touchpoints, frequently utilised are outside the control of the DMO, such as TripAdvisor, Google reviews and Google Maps. Ticino Turismo has orchestrated their efforts to supplying high-quality content at relevant points. Ticino Turismo, to regain control over these touchpoints, have utilised the advantage of their connection to the local reality and, thus, display authentic information. The nature of the customer that Ticino attracts is Swiss-German, who will repeatedly visit. Therefore, the inspiration for the trip needs to be deeper than the hotel and attractions discounts. To maintain customer loyalty a relationship needs to build and more experiences need to be devised.

The new website was created with a mobile user in mind, which represents around 60% of the total users. Therefore, high-impact images and short easy-scroll texts were preferred for content. Furthermore, given the returning nature of the visitors to Ticino, which means there is a strong and growing community, the DMO decided to make large use of user-generated content throughout all channels. This gives them access to free and great quality pictures and sustains interactions between them and their visitors.

Ticino Ticket’s main goal was to gain data about the visitors. The Ticino Ticket gives every overnight visitors discounted entry into attractions and free transport around Ticino. Providing this offer to visitors gives the DMO many benefits, among which, the most important one is to gather data about the visitors. The data lets them build a profile that includes information such as who they are, where they come from, how many nights they stay, if they travel in groups and the attractions that they visit. The data gathered through the Ticino Ticket were a key cornerstone of their strategy. In the future, Ticino Turismo will collaborate with the European Commission and two local universities in a three-year project. The first phase will entail the transformation of their digital tools into data collection tools. This will foster a central database, which will gather and analyse information.

The Micro Experiences

Sandra Dissertori, Content & Product Manager, highlighted one of the cornerstones of the new branding and digital strategy of Ticino Turismo: the Micro Experiences. The same experiences, that visitors can live uniquely in Ticino and that form part of the visual brand, are presented on the website in a very appealing style. Rather than just listing the activities that are in Ticino, Ticino Turismo evoked what feelings and emotions can be felt during a visit. The Micro Experiences are highly identifiable and unique parts of Ticino and its people.

The experiences listed on ticino.ch are highly specific moments such as ‘a prickly little treasure’ and ‘a tent by the lake’. The titles are highly emotive because they are reminiscent of a person recalling an anecdote. The experience represents the emotional response that can be gained in the destination rather than a checklist of activities. The experiences can also be filtered by emotion such as 'nostalgic' or 'happy'.

Not far to reach. Go on! Stretch out your arm. Imagine you're touching it. If you try, you'll feel the sensation of water droplets caressing your face. Milk white, the waterfall gushes down the rock and ends its mad dash as spray and foam.

Each experience is described to convey to the readers the emotions and sensations that they can feel at the location. It is evident that these experiences were conceived especially for returning customers, to lure them to come back and experience as much of the destination as possible. The website caters both to users who have time to read the whole article and to those who spend very little time on the page: each experience has a succinct list of ‘5 reasons why it is worth it’, very basic information about the place and the ‘Pro Tips’ to maximise the experience. At the end of each experience is the link to a related Story of an ambassador of the Ticino.

A curious choice to show experiences is the ‘Feel Lucky?’ option on the home page, which provides a random list of experiences that can be selected or rejected in a very Tinder-inspired (swipe left or right) modality.

Parallel to the micro experiences are the Stories. In this section, the website distinguishes the ambassadors, who are representative of Ticino, and showcases them to the potential visitor. The Stories are different from the Micro Experiences as they elaborate on what the individual will see from the perspective and eyes of the person describing it. They describe the local’s life and provide certain quirks that can only be witnesses in Ticino. As the potential visitor reads these stories, they feel more connected to the destination and at the same time they gather information on where to stay and what to do. Thus, engendering the feeling that they have had the ‘local’ experience rather than the ‘tourist’ experience.

Social Media Transformation

Ticino Turismo social media presence is a very good example of what we call 365 content planning. Thanks to the strong production of UGC and the 100% Ticino challenge, which provided great quality material from their audience, Ticino Turismo’s social media content is consistently planned and posted.

The content is divided into themes, mostly relating to the seasons. For example, summer content evokes images of summer holiday activities, such as swimming in the river or hiking. But, the thematic planning also reflects the various products that are offered in each season. For example, specific products like parks and gardens are featured in spring and can be scheduled in advance. However, Ticino Turismo is also highly adaptable with their content. Laura Gugelmann, Social Media Manager, characterised their social media strategy as “a sort of fixed but flexible plan”, a plan that allows an Always On content strategy, which lets them fix the plan according to last-minute factors, such as weather forecast or audience searches on the website. For example, they analyse the searched terms from the same season in the previous year and integrate these into content shown on their social channels. There is constant innovation with the content, but also a reflection of the current trends.

Ticino Turismo’s Instagram is exclusively User Generated Content. The user can tag Ticino Turismo and use the hashtag #ticinomoments in order to be featured. This, through time, fostered a great interaction and trust between the DMO and their audience and brought a consistent amount of images and videos that can be used by the DMO for posting. On Instagram, they can test the performance of the user-generated content and then choose the best ones to post to Facebook. Whereas Instagram is highly inspirational and characterized by ‘wow’ content, Facebook’s posts are derived to point consumers towards more informational content on ticino.ch.

Ticino Turismo’s 100% Ticino challenge - which you can read and watch the video in our opinion post - generated 100 videos by users over the course of 100 days and it’s a great example of creation of content with a low budget. The challenge was coordinated by Ticino Turismo who provided to volunteers a set of cameras that they could use to portray Ticino’s best locations while experiencing it. A video editor then created 100 videos from the footage that was posted on social media for 100 days. The videos showed the beauty and richness of life and culture in Ticino, as well as generating user content usable on their social media, but most of all the challenge propagated a sense of community with their public.

Key Takeaways

1. “Design Thinking as a means to co-create the brand”

The DMO applied Design Thinking in the rebranding process and involved all the stakeholders of the region in the definition of Ticino’s values, characteristics and experiences you can live in the destination. What we really appreciate is that they chose to collaborate with stakeholders from all the provinces of the region, in an inclusive and co-creating process, to identify the real essence of Ticino; furthermore Design Thinking was the means that made it possible.

2. “The brand is not just a logo but the logo represents the brand”

Ticino’s logo is a graphic representation of all the characteristics of the region that emerged in the co-creation process, from the concept behind the shape to the choice of colours. It is not easy to transpose abstract concepts into graphics, but Ticino Turismo literally nailed it by creating not only a visually appealing logo but also to making it consistent throughout all channels and embodying those inspirational elements that are narrated through the content.

3. “Storytelling is key to build experiences”

We think that the key to great content lies in storytelling. Ticino Turismo were able not only to make use of great storytelling to promote the destination, but to build the whole experience of Ticino around narration and storytelling. The Micro Experiences are not a list of activities you can experience at the destination but the description of the emotions they evoke in their visitors. The Stories, as well, are a great example of destination’s storytelling.

4. “Data is important for the DMO but also for the industry”

Thanks to the Ticino Ticket, the DMO was able to start building a database of profiles of their travellers and use the data for marketing and sales purposes. The database they created is just the start of a greater project to create a data collection platform that they will share with the industry in a collective effort to improve tourism in Ticino.

5. “UGC as a means to create a sense of community”

User generated content is a concept that emerged long time ago with the growth of social media, especially of Instagram. Even though it might sound like a too old topic, we think that Ticino made one step further in the use of UGC to create content. The DMO did not only use UGC to have free content to promote the destination, they used it as a means to create a sense of belonging within their community. Without such a strong community, no DMO is able to gather good quality content. Therefore we really praise the way Ticino was able to create this sense of community with their audience and visitors and the results are visible on their social media.

Access our  worksheet on the Ticino Rebranding 👇

Published on:
November 2020
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