Stage 4. Shaping the Brand

Conducting a full brand review, we'll identify the right tone and pitch to produce guidelines underpinning it.

In Destination Marketing branding is not about logos, it’s a holistic 360-degree approach to crafting, developing and nurturing an identity for the destination.

In Destination Marketing branding is not about logos, it’s a holistic 360-degree approach to crafting, developing and nurturing an identity for the destination. The destination brand has to be defined strategically according to the destination values and proposition and all the marketing actions aimed at promoting the destination and attracting visitors should be consistent with the brand.

In the last chapter, Product & Experience, we already talked about the brand and its values as the fundamental behind the creation of great tourism experiences. Without a defined brand, which is the image of the destination, it is hard to promote all the assets and characteristics of the destination’s tourism offer. The brand is, therefore, the basis of all the elements of the transformation framework and it continuously supports the strategies along with it.

In this chapter we are going to focus our attention on the fundamentals or pillars of the brand, to understand how a brand is created and how important is consistency across all promotional channels. We will show how the brand is deeply connected with reputation, identity and perception of the destination as well as highly susceptible to external factors such as environment, politics, society and culture.

With many case studies and talks from the best DMOs worldwide we will provide examples of destination brands that stood out for their innovation or strategic accuracy among which:

  • Eindhoven365
  • Munich Tourism
  • San Diego Tourism
  • Montreux Riviera
  • Visit Finland
  • Colombia Tourism
  • Visit Wales
  • Ticino Tourism
  • Dubai Tourism

We will guide you through the identification of your destination brand pillars and help you identify the challenges and opportunities of creating a destination brand through the use of plug-in and play Templates that you can download and use with your team.

With this pack, you will be able to

  1. Start a full digital transformation of your DMO
  2. Understand your destination brand identity and pillars
  3. Work on your destination brand to revamp it
  4. Use templates to create a branding strategy

Shaping the Brand - Sprint

This Shaping the Brand mural is one of our sprint murals designed to get your whole team working together to shape your brand!

This mural takes you through each aspect of your brand so you are able to get a holistic view of how your brand currently works with your organisation. It then walks you through identifying how you want to shape your brand from your communication to your key audiences.

Get started with the sprint 🏃🏾‍♀️

A sprint is a great way to rally all your teammates around a big idea or produce great results by concentrating the team on a specific need over a short period.

  1. Print the attached worksheet in large format (A1 is best!)
  2. Find a great communal space, such as the canteen, to stick it up (double-sided tape!)
  3. Invite team members to scribble their thoughts and ideas on the wall
  4. Organise a stand-up session, where several members can express their thoughts
  5. Take a snap, keep it posted or even better 'scan the wall' and digitise into Mural

You'll be pleased with the results when you get everyone thinking collectively.

The Principles of Destination Branding

The Principles of Destination Branding: The Simon Anholt Brand Index

The Principles of Destination Branding: Bloom Consulting's Branding Wheel

The Principles of Destination Branding: What is exactly a destination brand?

The Principles of Destination Branding: Redefining Brand Munich

The Principles of Destination Branding: The Brand Colombia

Bold Digital Strategy + People Power

Created as a citizen initiative by a group of smart Colombian marketers, a simple idea aims to harness patriotic sentiment among social media users to correct a common spelling error and promote the Colombian country brand in the process.

Tackling Mistaken Identity on a Global Scale

People unfamiliar with Colombia tend to confuse the Andean country’s name, both in spelling and pronunciation, with Columbia, the name of a university, a Canadian province, and a sportswear brand. High-profile spelling offenders include Starbucks, Disney, and even the CIA. Patriotic Colombians and others who love the country were becoming increasingly frustrated with these constant mistakes. After all, having one’s entire national identity reduced to the level of a sportswear brand IS rather discouraging.

So the social media campaign ‘it’s Colombia, NOT Columbia’, started with a serious mission: to educate the world on the correct way to spell their country’s name. The campaign, launched on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, asks supporters to photograph themselves wearing specially designed T-shirts bearing the simple catchphrase ‘It’s Colombia, NOT Columbia’, then post the photos to the campaign’s social media channels. In addition to this, the campaign organisers gather examples of misspellings from around the world and post them to the social channels, complete with witty comments gently chastising the individual/group/organisation responsible for the error.

The campaign’s Facebook page is now nearing 20,000 fans since it was launched on February 7, 2015. The managers of this campaign certainly know how to make a campaign go viral. Either that or this sentiment reflects the popular opinion and has given people an outlet to express feelings they’ve been harbouring for a long time

Timeline of ‘It’s Colombia, NOT Columbia’ Facebook Page.

colombia_fb_3



Starbucks: nicely named and shamed.

Campaign creator, Carlos Pardo, hopes to

Prove that social media is the most important tool in changing the perceptions of a country.

Colombia Ranks Poorly in the Nation Brand Index

But how does Colombia traditionally fare in the nation branding stakes? Not amazingly well so far.

According to Bloom Consulting’s most recent country brand index, the Colombian economy and perceptions of Colombia as a tourist destination are still poor, lagging far behind neighbouring countries. Despite its stunning scenery and fascinating culture, potential tourists still commonly view Colombia as an unsafe place to visit, suffering as it does from a long legacy of guerilla warfare, infamous drug gangs and frequent kidnappings. However, this perception is perhaps starting to shift, albeit slowly. Colombia’s second city Medellín was once considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities. But in spring 2013 Urban Land Institute voted it the world’s most innovative,beating Tel Aviv and New York to the title. That accolade may help attract foreign investment, but ordinary tourists are still likely to shy away from a place perceived as risky.

It’s unlikely the ‘It’s Colombia…’ campaign in itself can change people’s perceptions of Colombia. But what it can do is raise awareness of the country in people’s minds, sparking their curiosity and desire to find out more. When they decide to visit, they will hopefully find that Colombia defies common negative perceptions. If the country makes a good impression, then many travellers will spread the word to their networks using social media. This will eventually cause a gradual shift in perceptions, but it will be a long process. At this early stage visiting Colombia is more likely to appeal to more adventurous travellers, rather than the ordinary tourist.

Marca Pais: Colombia Country Branding Initiative

But the ‘It’s Colombia…’ grassroots campaign didn’t come into being simply because some ordinary Colombians were outraged by the world’s spelling mistakes. The Colombian government has been working for some time on improving the less positive aspects of their country, and also on promotional strategies to communicate the changes to the rest of the world. Spurred by the government’s own PR efforts, the citizen campaign was born.

So what exactly have the Colombian government been doing to promote their country to the outside world?

In a recent interview, Daniel Reyes, Communications Chief at Marca Pais Colombia, the national country-branding agency, talked in more detail about the government’s efforts to bring Colombia into the country branding, big leagues.

Innovative Approach to Digital Strategy

Daniel Reyes pointed out, “Social media has allowed us to deliver a coherent message about Colombia that is very difficult to achieve in other media. We try to give our social media followers, who number almost one million across all our social channels, an integral image of the country by posting content on four main categories, based on Colombia’s international offer on culture, tourism, exports and investment opportunities.”

The official country branding campaign, titled ‘The Answer is Colombia’, launched with a bold and innovative event held in the middle of New York’s Times Square. The aim was to put six authentic all-expenses-paid Colombian travel experiences up for auction among the crowds of tourists passing every day through the square.

Six Colombian Experiences:

  • Sighting of Humpback Whales in the Colombian Pacific
  • Bogota, through the eyes of the Ibero-American Theater Festival
  • Live the Coffee Route and its cultural landscape
  • Relive the historical magic of Cartagena, Mompox and the Colombian Caribbean
  • Get to know Medellin, the most innovative city in the world in 2013
  • Discover the largest group of megalithic religious monuments in San Agustin and Tierradentro, department of Huila

A giant interactive billboard in Times Square showed captivating images from all the six experiences, which ranged from walking the Coffee Route to seeing humpback whales in the Pacific. The auction took place every afternoon for one week, with the comedian Craig Baldo hosting the event on stage and urging people to place their votes. Voters did so by using a mobile app (available to download either via a regular link or by scanning the QR code on the billboard) to connect to Brand Colombia’s official social media profiles, then inviting all their friends to vote. The person who gets the most votes within 30 minutes would win an all-expenses-paid trip to live the Colombian experience that was up for auction that day.

Colombia: ‘Mega-Diverse’, Solution-Oriented

In terms of country branding, the campaign’s overall goal is to have the international community acknowledge Colombia as a ‘mega-diverse’ country with a lot to offer, but especially in terms of the talent of its people. In the words of Daniel Reyes, we have overcome some very tough obstacles on the road to prosperity, and that has made us excellent at solving problems. We have that experience to share with the world. Colombia is a solution country.’

One could agree that Colombia’s innovative approach to country branding and using digital has already given the world a good glimpse of their capacity for solving problems.

Colombia still faces many challenges in terms of security, even though the situation has improved greatly. The government is currently undertaking peace talks with the FARC (the guerilla organisation blamed for much of the conflict in Colombia). The result of those talks will determine a great deal about the country’s future. From a branding perspective, Colombia aims to continue telling the world about the progress the country is making in every area, not denying the problems, but focusing more on the solutions.

Fact Box:

Challenges:

  • Colombia country brand has negative associations
  • Past conflict in country discourages potential foreign tourists
  • Ongoing security challenges
  • Mistaken identity with the country name
  • Low global awareness of Colombia as a tourist destination

Results:

  • Presenting Colombia as a ‘solution country’
  • Revamping the brand image and increasing international interest in Colombia
  • Restoring national pride and sparking grassroots digital marketing campaign
  • Acknowledging the country's problems, but focusing positively on finding solutions
  • Taking a bold and innovative approach to branding Colombia
  • Delivering a coherent branding message across all social channels

The Principles of Destination Branding: The Brand Identity Wheel

We have created this template to help you pinpoint your brand identity.

We are going to start by getting you to explore some of the more visual details of your brand, such as your brand strapline, your brand's tone of voice, and the colours and typography you use to convey your brand on your online platforms.

We will then move over to the brand identity wheel in the middle of the mural, allowing you to explore your Brand Identity, how your brand works in action, and your brand values, and see how all three of these aspects can work together to create a strong brand.

Finally, we will get you to explore your brand values and your brand in action a little further as well as delving deeper to discover your brand essence.


Building the Brand

Building the Brand: Tone of Voice

Building the Brand: Template - Brand Tone of Voice

In this Brand Tone of Voice mural, we will walk you through how to identify, shape and strengthen your brand's tone of voice.

We will look at what best describes your brand, how consistent is your brand,  whether your brand has an accent, and what colloquialism you should use to fit your brand's tone of voice.  This mural will also help you look at how formal/ approachable your brand is currently and whether this fits with the image you have for your brand in the future.

Building the Brand: The Graphical Brand Components

Which are exactly the brand components?

First of all, as we already mentioned, the destination brand is not only a logo, but it's a sum of elements or components that are tangible and intangible.

The intangible elements are:

1. Values

To communicate successfully your brand needs to be built on a strong set of values. They are the DNA of your brand and all marketing decisions should be made with them at the front of your mind.

2. Personality

Personality is the outward reflection of these values, it’s the way your brand is put across through visuals, language and actions and is ultimately the picture the general public builds of you. Creating your brand personality and knowing it inside out is key to consistent communication.

3. Purpose

What is your goal as part of your wider sector?

4. Identity mark

An identity mark is by far the most important element of any brand. It is the brand spearhead and guides the style for any other visual elements. It should be unique to your organisation and represent the values and personality of your brand in a graphics or type. It should be recognisable by your audience. Equally, though, your brand as a whole should be able to hold its own without the identity mark.

The Visit Finland brand is a beautiful example of an identity mark that feels like it’s changing and evolving. The mark represents Finland as something individual, unconventional and fresh.

The tangible elements of the brand are represented by colours, typography and imagery.

5. Colours

It has been proven that colour increases brand recognition by 80% so it’s vital to pick the right ones.

A great place to start is by looking into colour perception and the meanings behind them so you can aim to strike the right chord with your customers, for example, Red can mean energy, strength and passion while green can represent harmony, freshness, and loyalty.

6. Typography

Great typefaces, when used well, can be the making of a brand and boost its personality. A typeface often becomes relegated to being one of the less important elements in a brand project and it often doesn’t get considered early on when decisions are made about the logo mark and colours. But it really should.

7. Imagery

Imagery is an important part of a cross channel brand. Studies show an image paired with information helps people retain 65% of that information three days later so it’s important to be presenting the right kind of visuals to make your brand memorable.

Building the Brand: San Diego - an example of brand consistency

Building the Brand: Dubai Tourism - Branding Happiness

Building the Brand: Brand Solution Statement

The Brand Solution Statement template is one of our sprint murals, designed to help your team to work together to come up with brand solutions for your DMO.  

This mural will guide you through identifying the issues you currently have with branding in your DMO. We will then walk you through creating dynamic solutions for the issues, helping you find your "who" (Who you will need on your team to help you solve this particular issue) your "what" (what your solution is, what modifications you need to make to your current brand strategy and what resources you'll need to make your solution happen) and your "wow" (How your solution is going to impact your brand!)

Applying the Brand

Applying the Brand: The Eindhoven Brand

Applying the Brand: Template - Co-Creating the Brand

The Co-creating Your Brand template is designed to walk you through the process of co-creating your brand, inspired by Eindhoven's amazing approach to creating a new brand inspired and built by their local community.

This template helps you to consolidate your ideas for your brand and takes you step-by-step through the process of co-creating your brand, from identifying who you want to sit around your creative table, to create a design competition so your local community can get involved.

Applying the Brand: Shaping the Brand with Content

Applying the Brand: Content crafted by brand actors

Applying the Brand: Visit Finland Brand Strategy

Applying the Brand: Visit Finland Destination Branding

Branding Finland

Finland offers unique potential as a tourist destination. It has many strings to its bow - natural sights of outstanding beauty, unique local culture and the famous northern lights. Yet despite its exceptional qualities, and perhaps because of its northern location and less than the Mediterranean climate, the country was once considered a rather niche destination within European tourism.

Undeterred, the Finnish National Tourist Board has successfully translated the qualities associated with Finland into a compelling and successful branding strategy. Its website has received the #DTTT Award 2013 for Branding and is considered one of the best examples within the tourist industry of a visually engaging and inspirational website.

BRANDING STRATEGY - THE MODERN HUMANIST

Finland is a relatively small country in terms of its population, and also in terms of tourist headcount. Therefore, in 2009 the Finnish Tourist Board resolved to pursue a niche differentiation strategy, to strengthen its brand positioning. Finland finds itself in the invidious position of having to compete with more glamorous European countries than promise sunnier climes, such as Spain, Portugal and Italy, and thus some outside the box thinking were required to bring the country's tourism industry to the fore.

Foreign overnights in 2013 by country


2013 foreign overnights by country in million

Based on extensive market research, the so-called ‘Modern Humanist’ was identified by researchers as a primary target market. This particular subset of the population is part of a global audience of potential travellers to Finland, and is characterised by the following:

  • High levels of education;
  • Extensively travelled;
  • Seeking ‘authentic’ insight and experiences;
  • Drawn to untouched scenery and nature-based activities;
  • Interest in cultural activities, fine arts and design.

Based on this knowledge, the refocusing of Visit Finland’s brand positioning is shifting away from offering predominantly travel-related information. Having conducted significant research, an approach has been identified which perfectly suits the target demographic for tourism in Finland, thus, the tourist board now follows an approach that is very much based on visual imagery. This is intended to evoke a strong emotional response from the target group of potential tourists, as they instinctively recognise characteristics inherent within Finland that are particularly attractive to them.

Visual engagement on Visitfinland.com

STRONG INSPIRATIONAL FOCUS

By the role of NTOs in general, Visit Finland focuses on raising awareness of the nation and its particular qualities. It also attempts to inspire travellers in the very early stages of the travel planning cycle, and provide compelling pull factors that instigate a decision to plump for Finland.

It could be said that the VisitFinland must be a little more creative than other more established tourist destinations. Thus, the entire approach of identifying ideal demographics for Finland to target has been crafted. As a result of this, rather than providing practical in-depth information about specific regions or activities in Finland, information is centred on offering mainly visual stimulation such as videos, images and interactive tools. This is then accompanied by selected high-level information, with the approach implemented throughout digital platforms.

Image gallery on deep level content

CONTENT CURATION

The content provided ranges from simple travel-related information to articles and stories about specific activities, regions and tourist products. This content is supplemented by a large number of highly relevant links to external sources. The sources and links are curated in alignment with Visit Finland’s overall brand positioning as a niche destination for the ‘Modern Humanist’. In essence, Visit Finland’s digital platforms aim to serve potential visitors in the most appropriate way possible and to provide a curated directory of quality content and information.

Links to further sources on deep level content site

COOPERATION WITH REGIONAL AND LOCAL DMOs

Visit Finland develops branding and campaign strategies and tactics independently. However, the Tourist Board tries to involve local DMOs and partners in the decision-making process wherever possible. It also offers a strong media database to encourage the widespread use of its inspirational images. And above all else, the website serves as a traffic generator for regional and local DMO websites. By employing the strategy of targeting the ideal demographic 'Modern Humanists', Visit Finland has successfully improved the tourism prospects of the nation and is beginning to transform the perception of Finland as a tourist destination.

CAMPAIGN APPROACH

One of the successful recent examples of inspirational brand initiatives run by VisitFinland is the 'Finngenerator' campaign. This was based on a simple tool, which generates a users’ “Finnish name”. When website visitors type their name into a box and provide their gender, their name will change into the Finnish equivalent. The meaning of the name is explained and accompanied by high-quality imagery. This is a fun way to introduce visitors to the culture of Finland.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 14.17.20

Finland's culture is redolent of nature and old mythology, and Finnish names are no exception. They are inspired by the four seasons, the varying land (forest, fells, water...), wildlife of all kind, and the national epic Kalevala. This particularly appeals to the 'Modern Humanist' target group, as it serves this sector’s interest in language, culture and nature.

The Finnish name tool became hugely popular and generated a large amount of visibility, media mentions and website visits.

"Finngenerated" name

PERFORMANCE

The 'Finngenerator' campaign has been so successful that in the first two months after it was launched, nearly two-million names have been generated. The application has received nearly four-million hits in the same timeframe. The success can be attributed to a viral social media campaign. In the first two months, the 'Finngenerator' campaign was shared over 400,000 times on social media, thereby creating a buzz that translated to website visits.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

Digital media is playing an increasingly important role in the branding efforts of Visit Finland. The Finnish Tourist Board has gone to great lengths to integrate the nation's online and offline brand development. This has been achieved by incorporating new channels into the digital marketing mix and developing existing channels such as photo-sharing social networking services through campaigns and competitions.

Given that Visit Finland aims to evoke positive feelings and passion for the Finnish tourism market, an updated version of the website is currently under development. The new website when released will focus more strongly on visual engagement, while also addressing the new challenges for Visit Finland and Finland as a tourist destination. These include optimisation for mobile devices; it is appropriate that this modish consideration is being addressed by a tourist destination that is slowly but surely becoming the zeitgeist for a certain sector of travellers.

KEY FACTS

OPPORTUNITIES

  • A niche strategy with a strong demographic focus
  • A visual approach to evoke inspiration
  • A personalised campaign to increase attention and engagement
  • Incorporation of local partners

CHALLENGES

  • Strategic focus emphasises exclusively the early stages of the travel cycle
  • A restrictive target group

Applying the Brand: Visit Wales - Shaping the brand with content

Applying the Brand: Montreux Riviera Local Guides

Applying the Brand: Template - Brand Benchmarking

In this Mural, we walk you through the process of benchmarking your brand against other DMO brands you admire looking at aspects such as consistency, creativity, visual cues, personality and purpose.

Benchmarking is a valuable exercise as it allows you to pinpoint what your competitors are doing well and where you as a DMO are excelling against the competition giving you an accurate idea of your brand performance and allowing you to create clear actionable steps to improve your brand going forward.

Thanks for following this course

You can now watch Singapore Tourism - a 360 Perspective, which is full of interesting insights about the brand.

Or watch this talk from Visit Jersey about the DMO's rebranding journey! Visit Jersey shares the journey they've been on and why the future looks bright for #TheIslandBreak. Hear Adam share the great work the team have been doing to craft an incredibly strong identity through a comprehensive campaign of strong brand initiatives with digital at the core.

In Destination Marketing branding is not about logos, it’s a holistic 360-degree approach to crafting, developing and nurturing an identity for the destination.

In Destination Marketing branding is not about logos, it’s a holistic 360-degree approach to crafting, developing and nurturing an identity for the destination. The destination brand has to be defined strategically according to the destination values and proposition and all the marketing actions aimed at promoting the destination and attracting visitors should be consistent with the brand.

In the last chapter, Product & Experience, we already talked about the brand and its values as the fundamental behind the creation of great tourism experiences. Without a defined brand, which is the image of the destination, it is hard to promote all the assets and characteristics of the destination’s tourism offer. The brand is, therefore, the basis of all the elements of the transformation framework and it continuously supports the strategies along with it.

In this chapter we are going to focus our attention on the fundamentals or pillars of the brand, to understand how a brand is created and how important is consistency across all promotional channels. We will show how the brand is deeply connected with reputation, identity and perception of the destination as well as highly susceptible to external factors such as environment, politics, society and culture.

With many case studies and talks from the best DMOs worldwide we will provide examples of destination brands that stood out for their innovation or strategic accuracy among which:

  • Eindhoven365
  • Munich Tourism
  • San Diego Tourism
  • Montreux Riviera
  • Visit Finland
  • Colombia Tourism
  • Visit Wales
  • Ticino Tourism
  • Dubai Tourism

We will guide you through the identification of your destination brand pillars and help you identify the challenges and opportunities of creating a destination brand through the use of plug-in and play Templates that you can download and use with your team.

With this pack, you will be able to

  1. Start a full digital transformation of your DMO
  2. Understand your destination brand identity and pillars
  3. Work on your destination brand to revamp it
  4. Use templates to create a branding strategy

Shaping the Brand - Sprint

This Shaping the Brand mural is one of our sprint murals designed to get your whole team working together to shape your brand!

This mural takes you through each aspect of your brand so you are able to get a holistic view of how your brand currently works with your organisation. It then walks you through identifying how you want to shape your brand from your communication to your key audiences.

Get started with the sprint 🏃🏾‍♀️

A sprint is a great way to rally all your teammates around a big idea or produce great results by concentrating the team on a specific need over a short period.

  1. Print the attached worksheet in large format (A1 is best!)
  2. Find a great communal space, such as the canteen, to stick it up (double-sided tape!)
  3. Invite team members to scribble their thoughts and ideas on the wall
  4. Organise a stand-up session, where several members can express their thoughts
  5. Take a snap, keep it posted or even better 'scan the wall' and digitise into Mural

You'll be pleased with the results when you get everyone thinking collectively.

The Principles of Destination Branding

The Principles of Destination Branding: The Simon Anholt Brand Index

The Principles of Destination Branding: Bloom Consulting's Branding Wheel

The Principles of Destination Branding: What is exactly a destination brand?

The Principles of Destination Branding: Redefining Brand Munich

The Principles of Destination Branding: The Brand Colombia

Bold Digital Strategy + People Power

Created as a citizen initiative by a group of smart Colombian marketers, a simple idea aims to harness patriotic sentiment among social media users to correct a common spelling error and promote the Colombian country brand in the process.

Tackling Mistaken Identity on a Global Scale

People unfamiliar with Colombia tend to confuse the Andean country’s name, both in spelling and pronunciation, with Columbia, the name of a university, a Canadian province, and a sportswear brand. High-profile spelling offenders include Starbucks, Disney, and even the CIA. Patriotic Colombians and others who love the country were becoming increasingly frustrated with these constant mistakes. After all, having one’s entire national identity reduced to the level of a sportswear brand IS rather discouraging.

So the social media campaign ‘it’s Colombia, NOT Columbia’, started with a serious mission: to educate the world on the correct way to spell their country’s name. The campaign, launched on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, asks supporters to photograph themselves wearing specially designed T-shirts bearing the simple catchphrase ‘It’s Colombia, NOT Columbia’, then post the photos to the campaign’s social media channels. In addition to this, the campaign organisers gather examples of misspellings from around the world and post them to the social channels, complete with witty comments gently chastising the individual/group/organisation responsible for the error.

The campaign’s Facebook page is now nearing 20,000 fans since it was launched on February 7, 2015. The managers of this campaign certainly know how to make a campaign go viral. Either that or this sentiment reflects the popular opinion and has given people an outlet to express feelings they’ve been harbouring for a long time

Timeline of ‘It’s Colombia, NOT Columbia’ Facebook Page.

colombia_fb_3



Starbucks: nicely named and shamed.

Campaign creator, Carlos Pardo, hopes to

Prove that social media is the most important tool in changing the perceptions of a country.

Colombia Ranks Poorly in the Nation Brand Index

But how does Colombia traditionally fare in the nation branding stakes? Not amazingly well so far.

According to Bloom Consulting’s most recent country brand index, the Colombian economy and perceptions of Colombia as a tourist destination are still poor, lagging far behind neighbouring countries. Despite its stunning scenery and fascinating culture, potential tourists still commonly view Colombia as an unsafe place to visit, suffering as it does from a long legacy of guerilla warfare, infamous drug gangs and frequent kidnappings. However, this perception is perhaps starting to shift, albeit slowly. Colombia’s second city Medellín was once considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities. But in spring 2013 Urban Land Institute voted it the world’s most innovative,beating Tel Aviv and New York to the title. That accolade may help attract foreign investment, but ordinary tourists are still likely to shy away from a place perceived as risky.

It’s unlikely the ‘It’s Colombia…’ campaign in itself can change people’s perceptions of Colombia. But what it can do is raise awareness of the country in people’s minds, sparking their curiosity and desire to find out more. When they decide to visit, they will hopefully find that Colombia defies common negative perceptions. If the country makes a good impression, then many travellers will spread the word to their networks using social media. This will eventually cause a gradual shift in perceptions, but it will be a long process. At this early stage visiting Colombia is more likely to appeal to more adventurous travellers, rather than the ordinary tourist.

Marca Pais: Colombia Country Branding Initiative

But the ‘It’s Colombia…’ grassroots campaign didn’t come into being simply because some ordinary Colombians were outraged by the world’s spelling mistakes. The Colombian government has been working for some time on improving the less positive aspects of their country, and also on promotional strategies to communicate the changes to the rest of the world. Spurred by the government’s own PR efforts, the citizen campaign was born.

So what exactly have the Colombian government been doing to promote their country to the outside world?

In a recent interview, Daniel Reyes, Communications Chief at Marca Pais Colombia, the national country-branding agency, talked in more detail about the government’s efforts to bring Colombia into the country branding, big leagues.

Innovative Approach to Digital Strategy

Daniel Reyes pointed out, “Social media has allowed us to deliver a coherent message about Colombia that is very difficult to achieve in other media. We try to give our social media followers, who number almost one million across all our social channels, an integral image of the country by posting content on four main categories, based on Colombia’s international offer on culture, tourism, exports and investment opportunities.”

The official country branding campaign, titled ‘The Answer is Colombia’, launched with a bold and innovative event held in the middle of New York’s Times Square. The aim was to put six authentic all-expenses-paid Colombian travel experiences up for auction among the crowds of tourists passing every day through the square.

Six Colombian Experiences:

  • Sighting of Humpback Whales in the Colombian Pacific
  • Bogota, through the eyes of the Ibero-American Theater Festival
  • Live the Coffee Route and its cultural landscape
  • Relive the historical magic of Cartagena, Mompox and the Colombian Caribbean
  • Get to know Medellin, the most innovative city in the world in 2013
  • Discover the largest group of megalithic religious monuments in San Agustin and Tierradentro, department of Huila

A giant interactive billboard in Times Square showed captivating images from all the six experiences, which ranged from walking the Coffee Route to seeing humpback whales in the Pacific. The auction took place every afternoon for one week, with the comedian Craig Baldo hosting the event on stage and urging people to place their votes. Voters did so by using a mobile app (available to download either via a regular link or by scanning the QR code on the billboard) to connect to Brand Colombia’s official social media profiles, then inviting all their friends to vote. The person who gets the most votes within 30 minutes would win an all-expenses-paid trip to live the Colombian experience that was up for auction that day.

Colombia: ‘Mega-Diverse’, Solution-Oriented

In terms of country branding, the campaign’s overall goal is to have the international community acknowledge Colombia as a ‘mega-diverse’ country with a lot to offer, but especially in terms of the talent of its people. In the words of Daniel Reyes, we have overcome some very tough obstacles on the road to prosperity, and that has made us excellent at solving problems. We have that experience to share with the world. Colombia is a solution country.’

One could agree that Colombia’s innovative approach to country branding and using digital has already given the world a good glimpse of their capacity for solving problems.

Colombia still faces many challenges in terms of security, even though the situation has improved greatly. The government is currently undertaking peace talks with the FARC (the guerilla organisation blamed for much of the conflict in Colombia). The result of those talks will determine a great deal about the country’s future. From a branding perspective, Colombia aims to continue telling the world about the progress the country is making in every area, not denying the problems, but focusing more on the solutions.

Fact Box:

Challenges:

  • Colombia country brand has negative associations
  • Past conflict in country discourages potential foreign tourists
  • Ongoing security challenges
  • Mistaken identity with the country name
  • Low global awareness of Colombia as a tourist destination

Results:

  • Presenting Colombia as a ‘solution country’
  • Revamping the brand image and increasing international interest in Colombia
  • Restoring national pride and sparking grassroots digital marketing campaign
  • Acknowledging the country's problems, but focusing positively on finding solutions
  • Taking a bold and innovative approach to branding Colombia
  • Delivering a coherent branding message across all social channels

The Principles of Destination Branding: The Brand Identity Wheel

We have created this template to help you pinpoint your brand identity.

We are going to start by getting you to explore some of the more visual details of your brand, such as your brand strapline, your brand's tone of voice, and the colours and typography you use to convey your brand on your online platforms.

We will then move over to the brand identity wheel in the middle of the mural, allowing you to explore your Brand Identity, how your brand works in action, and your brand values, and see how all three of these aspects can work together to create a strong brand.

Finally, we will get you to explore your brand values and your brand in action a little further as well as delving deeper to discover your brand essence.


Building the Brand

Building the Brand: Tone of Voice

Building the Brand: Template - Brand Tone of Voice

In this Brand Tone of Voice mural, we will walk you through how to identify, shape and strengthen your brand's tone of voice.

We will look at what best describes your brand, how consistent is your brand,  whether your brand has an accent, and what colloquialism you should use to fit your brand's tone of voice.  This mural will also help you look at how formal/ approachable your brand is currently and whether this fits with the image you have for your brand in the future.

Building the Brand: The Graphical Brand Components

Which are exactly the brand components?

First of all, as we already mentioned, the destination brand is not only a logo, but it's a sum of elements or components that are tangible and intangible.

The intangible elements are:

1. Values

To communicate successfully your brand needs to be built on a strong set of values. They are the DNA of your brand and all marketing decisions should be made with them at the front of your mind.

2. Personality

Personality is the outward reflection of these values, it’s the way your brand is put across through visuals, language and actions and is ultimately the picture the general public builds of you. Creating your brand personality and knowing it inside out is key to consistent communication.

3. Purpose

What is your goal as part of your wider sector?

4. Identity mark

An identity mark is by far the most important element of any brand. It is the brand spearhead and guides the style for any other visual elements. It should be unique to your organisation and represent the values and personality of your brand in a graphics or type. It should be recognisable by your audience. Equally, though, your brand as a whole should be able to hold its own without the identity mark.

The Visit Finland brand is a beautiful example of an identity mark that feels like it’s changing and evolving. The mark represents Finland as something individual, unconventional and fresh.

The tangible elements of the brand are represented by colours, typography and imagery.

5. Colours

It has been proven that colour increases brand recognition by 80% so it’s vital to pick the right ones.

A great place to start is by looking into colour perception and the meanings behind them so you can aim to strike the right chord with your customers, for example, Red can mean energy, strength and passion while green can represent harmony, freshness, and loyalty.

6. Typography

Great typefaces, when used well, can be the making of a brand and boost its personality. A typeface often becomes relegated to being one of the less important elements in a brand project and it often doesn’t get considered early on when decisions are made about the logo mark and colours. But it really should.

7. Imagery

Imagery is an important part of a cross channel brand. Studies show an image paired with information helps people retain 65% of that information three days later so it’s important to be presenting the right kind of visuals to make your brand memorable.

Building the Brand: San Diego - an example of brand consistency

Building the Brand: Dubai Tourism - Branding Happiness

Building the Brand: Brand Solution Statement

The Brand Solution Statement template is one of our sprint murals, designed to help your team to work together to come up with brand solutions for your DMO.  

This mural will guide you through identifying the issues you currently have with branding in your DMO. We will then walk you through creating dynamic solutions for the issues, helping you find your "who" (Who you will need on your team to help you solve this particular issue) your "what" (what your solution is, what modifications you need to make to your current brand strategy and what resources you'll need to make your solution happen) and your "wow" (How your solution is going to impact your brand!)

Applying the Brand

Applying the Brand: The Eindhoven Brand

Applying the Brand: Template - Co-Creating the Brand

The Co-creating Your Brand template is designed to walk you through the process of co-creating your brand, inspired by Eindhoven's amazing approach to creating a new brand inspired and built by their local community.

This template helps you to consolidate your ideas for your brand and takes you step-by-step through the process of co-creating your brand, from identifying who you want to sit around your creative table, to create a design competition so your local community can get involved.

Applying the Brand: Shaping the Brand with Content

Applying the Brand: Content crafted by brand actors

Applying the Brand: Visit Finland Brand Strategy

Applying the Brand: Visit Finland Destination Branding

Branding Finland

Finland offers unique potential as a tourist destination. It has many strings to its bow - natural sights of outstanding beauty, unique local culture and the famous northern lights. Yet despite its exceptional qualities, and perhaps because of its northern location and less than the Mediterranean climate, the country was once considered a rather niche destination within European tourism.

Undeterred, the Finnish National Tourist Board has successfully translated the qualities associated with Finland into a compelling and successful branding strategy. Its website has received the #DTTT Award 2013 for Branding and is considered one of the best examples within the tourist industry of a visually engaging and inspirational website.

BRANDING STRATEGY - THE MODERN HUMANIST

Finland is a relatively small country in terms of its population, and also in terms of tourist headcount. Therefore, in 2009 the Finnish Tourist Board resolved to pursue a niche differentiation strategy, to strengthen its brand positioning. Finland finds itself in the invidious position of having to compete with more glamorous European countries than promise sunnier climes, such as Spain, Portugal and Italy, and thus some outside the box thinking were required to bring the country's tourism industry to the fore.

Foreign overnights in 2013 by country


2013 foreign overnights by country in million

Based on extensive market research, the so-called ‘Modern Humanist’ was identified by researchers as a primary target market. This particular subset of the population is part of a global audience of potential travellers to Finland, and is characterised by the following:

  • High levels of education;
  • Extensively travelled;
  • Seeking ‘authentic’ insight and experiences;
  • Drawn to untouched scenery and nature-based activities;
  • Interest in cultural activities, fine arts and design.

Based on this knowledge, the refocusing of Visit Finland’s brand positioning is shifting away from offering predominantly travel-related information. Having conducted significant research, an approach has been identified which perfectly suits the target demographic for tourism in Finland, thus, the tourist board now follows an approach that is very much based on visual imagery. This is intended to evoke a strong emotional response from the target group of potential tourists, as they instinctively recognise characteristics inherent within Finland that are particularly attractive to them.

Visual engagement on Visitfinland.com

STRONG INSPIRATIONAL FOCUS

By the role of NTOs in general, Visit Finland focuses on raising awareness of the nation and its particular qualities. It also attempts to inspire travellers in the very early stages of the travel planning cycle, and provide compelling pull factors that instigate a decision to plump for Finland.

It could be said that the VisitFinland must be a little more creative than other more established tourist destinations. Thus, the entire approach of identifying ideal demographics for Finland to target has been crafted. As a result of this, rather than providing practical in-depth information about specific regions or activities in Finland, information is centred on offering mainly visual stimulation such as videos, images and interactive tools. This is then accompanied by selected high-level information, with the approach implemented throughout digital platforms.

Image gallery on deep level content

CONTENT CURATION

The content provided ranges from simple travel-related information to articles and stories about specific activities, regions and tourist products. This content is supplemented by a large number of highly relevant links to external sources. The sources and links are curated in alignment with Visit Finland’s overall brand positioning as a niche destination for the ‘Modern Humanist’. In essence, Visit Finland’s digital platforms aim to serve potential visitors in the most appropriate way possible and to provide a curated directory of quality content and information.

Links to further sources on deep level content site

COOPERATION WITH REGIONAL AND LOCAL DMOs

Visit Finland develops branding and campaign strategies and tactics independently. However, the Tourist Board tries to involve local DMOs and partners in the decision-making process wherever possible. It also offers a strong media database to encourage the widespread use of its inspirational images. And above all else, the website serves as a traffic generator for regional and local DMO websites. By employing the strategy of targeting the ideal demographic 'Modern Humanists', Visit Finland has successfully improved the tourism prospects of the nation and is beginning to transform the perception of Finland as a tourist destination.

CAMPAIGN APPROACH

One of the successful recent examples of inspirational brand initiatives run by VisitFinland is the 'Finngenerator' campaign. This was based on a simple tool, which generates a users’ “Finnish name”. When website visitors type their name into a box and provide their gender, their name will change into the Finnish equivalent. The meaning of the name is explained and accompanied by high-quality imagery. This is a fun way to introduce visitors to the culture of Finland.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 14.17.20

Finland's culture is redolent of nature and old mythology, and Finnish names are no exception. They are inspired by the four seasons, the varying land (forest, fells, water...), wildlife of all kind, and the national epic Kalevala. This particularly appeals to the 'Modern Humanist' target group, as it serves this sector’s interest in language, culture and nature.

The Finnish name tool became hugely popular and generated a large amount of visibility, media mentions and website visits.

"Finngenerated" name

PERFORMANCE

The 'Finngenerator' campaign has been so successful that in the first two months after it was launched, nearly two-million names have been generated. The application has received nearly four-million hits in the same timeframe. The success can be attributed to a viral social media campaign. In the first two months, the 'Finngenerator' campaign was shared over 400,000 times on social media, thereby creating a buzz that translated to website visits.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

Digital media is playing an increasingly important role in the branding efforts of Visit Finland. The Finnish Tourist Board has gone to great lengths to integrate the nation's online and offline brand development. This has been achieved by incorporating new channels into the digital marketing mix and developing existing channels such as photo-sharing social networking services through campaigns and competitions.

Given that Visit Finland aims to evoke positive feelings and passion for the Finnish tourism market, an updated version of the website is currently under development. The new website when released will focus more strongly on visual engagement, while also addressing the new challenges for Visit Finland and Finland as a tourist destination. These include optimisation for mobile devices; it is appropriate that this modish consideration is being addressed by a tourist destination that is slowly but surely becoming the zeitgeist for a certain sector of travellers.

KEY FACTS

OPPORTUNITIES

  • A niche strategy with a strong demographic focus
  • A visual approach to evoke inspiration
  • A personalised campaign to increase attention and engagement
  • Incorporation of local partners

CHALLENGES

  • Strategic focus emphasises exclusively the early stages of the travel cycle
  • A restrictive target group

Applying the Brand: Visit Wales - Shaping the brand with content

Applying the Brand: Montreux Riviera Local Guides

Applying the Brand: Template - Brand Benchmarking

In this Mural, we walk you through the process of benchmarking your brand against other DMO brands you admire looking at aspects such as consistency, creativity, visual cues, personality and purpose.

Benchmarking is a valuable exercise as it allows you to pinpoint what your competitors are doing well and where you as a DMO are excelling against the competition giving you an accurate idea of your brand performance and allowing you to create clear actionable steps to improve your brand going forward.

Thanks for following this course

You can now watch Singapore Tourism - a 360 Perspective, which is full of interesting insights about the brand.

Or watch this talk from Visit Jersey about the DMO's rebranding journey! Visit Jersey shares the journey they've been on and why the future looks bright for #TheIslandBreak. Hear Adam share the great work the team have been doing to craft an incredibly strong identity through a comprehensive campaign of strong brand initiatives with digital at the core.