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.
More from #DTTT
In February we present:Shaping Vienna – A New Visitor Economy Strategy for the Vienna Tourist Board
Sustainable tourism growth is at the forefront of destination strategy today, proposing new visions and objectives for the future of the visitor economy. The Vienna Tourist Board presents its Visitor Economy Strategy 2025, Shaping Vienna, reflecting a new era of tourism that targets sustainable development with an emphasis on adding value for the city, its […]#Visitor Economy Strategy #sustainable tourism #add value #Vienna Tourist Board
In February we present:Travel Oregon – Rethinking Content Styles
For Travel Oregon, content has taken several changes in direction over the years, with a timeline of multiple successful campaigns under its name. This is a great example of a DMO that has adapted its content style over time to align with the ever-changing travel landscape, highlighting the role of sustainability and its impact, and […]#rethinking content style #brand dna #sustainability #travel oregon #brand-values #differentiation
In January we present:#ClientStories Visit Brussels | Full Digital Transformation
The Digital Tourism Think Tank conducted a full Digital Transformation assessment and organisational audit of Visit Brussels, looking at every single aspect of the organisation and its digital activities. Using our carefully curated 12-step approach, we reviewed the organisation from a completely holistic perspective, analysing everything from the organisational structure to the visitor cycle and […]#digital content strategy #brand transformation #Visit Brussels #digital transformation #design-thinking #Knowledge Exchange
In January we present:Visit California – The Pivotal Brand Touchpoint
Visit California is a DMO that is really leading the way when it comes to leveraging the destination brand story, and has long been a destination that we here at the #DTTT consider to be a best practice when it comes to delivering compelling content, all year round. Visit California understands the importance of […]#brand desire #brand story #visit California #touchpoints #brand-identity #content strategy
In January we present:Digitising a Destination with Tourisme Bretagne
Today, the travel industry finds itself in an unprecedented position. The competition has never been so high and with the issue of sustainability rife within the industry and world as a whole, DMOs are striving to implement initiatives that support sustainable growth for the destination, tourists and all stakeholders involved. The Federation of Breton Tourist […]#Tourisme Bretagne #sustainable tourism #customer journey #DTTT-global #digital strategy #digitalisation
In January we present:How Destination Canada evolved from a Destination Brand to a Passion Brand
For destination marketers today, the biggest challenge is to keep up with the speed of change and the ever-changing traveller. So how best to stand out from the competition? Is it through technology? Offers? Experiences? Brand? Here is an extract of Destination Canada’s talk about brand transformation. We have highlighted the key messages. The full […]#brand journey #transformational travel #passion brand #Brand evolution #destination canada #strategy