New Dimensions of Destination Branding

“A brand is no-longer what we tell consumers it is. It is what consumers tell each other.” Scott Cook – Founder of Intuit.

While Cook’s experience as a software developer may seem far removed from tourism, this insight is having profound impact on Destination Marketing. At a time when destination branding is becoming more important, there is a greater realization that branding is not just a function of “Promotion” – great advertising, PR, online advertising, etc –  another of the 4 P’s of marketing is taking its place in the spotlight: P for Product.

This makes a lot of sense – my brand experience of Apple is in using my ipad or iphone – not their advertising. My brand experience of Starbucks is in my visits to the “third place” – not from their (limited) advertising…. and yet for a long time we have talked about destination branding as though it was about finding a “magic message”.

Marketing is more than “promotion” and the time has come for DMOs to place more attention on “product”. The heavy lifting of brand development is being undertaken by a new breed of “customer experience managers” and DMO leaders engaging with city leaders and developers to ensure the destination product reflects the destination brand ideals.

Most DMOs have very limited budgets and building brand through advertising has little impact in a marketplace awash with messages. Destination Brand equity is created by consumers sharing with their friends, family and extended networks that the destination actually delivers on the promise. It probably always has been like this – its just that it is more obvious now.

DestinationNext, DMAI’s strategic road map for the future of destination marketing captures growing focus on ensuring the destination is managed to maximized benefits of tourism. The Destination Next theme,”Building and Protecting the Destination Brand”, recognizes that destination brand building includes being a cultural champion for the destination, supporting responsible and sustainable development and connecting visitor experience to resident’s quality of life. For many DMO’s that’s a very different “to do” list from years go past…

DMOs that invest in the visitor experience are using their branding resources in the best possible way…

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