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In destination marketing, branding is not about logos, it involves a holistic 360 degree approach to crafting, developing and nurturing a unique identity for the destination according to key elements such as the destination proposition, heritage and values. Once established, the destination brand is the foundation of all marketing activities designed to promote the destination and attract new visitors; content and messaging should always be aligned with this in mind. The destination brand is absolutely pivotal to what is communicated to the world. 

It is important to acknowledge this concept before starting to talk about the brand because branding is not only about giving a name and colour to a product or place, it is the sum of multiple elements all converging into one narrative which we call the brand.

Destination branding is driven by three main factors, which represent the fundamentals of a destination brand: reputation, identity and perception.
Reputation is the sum of the beliefs or opinions about the destination, it needs to be built, protected, maintained and changed, if needed, over time.
Identity has to be driven by authenticity, unique selling points of the destination, consistency and strong personality.
Perception is mostly made of immaterial experiences, even though material experiences matter as well, and it is subjective, in the mind of consumers.

We explore this in further detail in Stage 4 of our Transformation Series: Shaping the Brand

In terms of destination marketing, it is all about the brand story and creating one that really resonates with your core audience. First and foremost, this is to secure competitive differentiation in an already saturated marketplace. As the travel industry continues to change at an unprecedented pace, alongside constantly evolving traveller behaviour, the impact of sustainability and living in a hyper-connected world, a strong brand means destinations have the ability to stand the test of time and remain competitive, while still being innovative, dynamic and agile in their approach. 

There are many fantastic examples of destinations that have established a compelling brand narrative through different means from powerful storytelling and destination-wide collaboration to a complete destination re-brand. 

Ticino Turismo - Rebrand

In 2018, Ticino Turismo, the official DMO of the canton, embarked on a great innovation journey that led them to a complete rebranding after 36 years. The new brand considered many different elements and the process of design thinking was used as a means to co-create the new narrative and branding, collaborating with stakeholders from all the provinces of the region. This was a total digital transformation, and the many different micro-experiences, stories and emotions within the destination are reflected in the new brand you see today. 

Check out the full case study.

Destination Canada - Brand evolution

Gloria Loree, Vice President of Global Marketing at Destination Canada, joined us at #DTTTCampus this year for a truly fantastic talk about how the DMO has evolved from a destination brand to a passion brand, with insights into the brand journey of this transformation, alongside how to successfully keep up with the speed of change and ever-changing traveller. The strategy shifted from telling people what to do via online ads, to matching target travellers’ personal passions to Canadian experiences, focusing on signature experiences and storytelling. 

Watch the talk here

Singapore - Brand stories

Here at the #DTTT, we consider Singapore Tourism Board as one of the DMOs that continuously innovate its brand with a strategy that focuses on local people, their stories and passions, delivering these powerful messages through effective digital strategies.

Singapore Tourism Board also shifted its strategy to focus on promoting passion, creating passion ambassadors and tribes. A visitor-centric approach, connecting visitors to the destination through personalised, authentic stories based on strong brand values. 

Here’s the full case study

Eindhoven - Brand collaboration

Traditionally, most companies involved in the travel space operated in silos, whereas now we are seeing really strong collaboration across the board, with the customer journey at the very core of this. Whether that is a collaboration with airlines, locals or the whole entire city.

At #DTTTGlobal in 2018, Eindhoven shared its dynamic, all-inclusive strategy, where the DMO created one, open-source brand meaning the brand logo was available and free to use and adapt by anyone in town!

Using the city's strategic advantage of creative and tech talent, and focusing on three key domains of technology, design and knowledge, Eindhoven brought together a team from all different industries within the city to create a truly dynamic identity, one that resonates with key audiences and everyone who lives there. 

You can watch the full talk with Peter Kentie, Managing Director of Eindhoven365, here on the Launchpad.

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