Moving the Brand Wheel

Many Destination Marketing Organizations engage in “tweaking” or completely changing their brand architecture and messaging. This is a natural reaction to changes in customer behaviour patterns and the continual effort to ”Edge” the competition’s brand messaging.

Often, after looking at competitor campaigns and conducting reviews with ad agencies and focus groups the executive team of the DMO finds their fast lane for developing or modifying their brand message. This is when trouble often arrives at the DMO doorstep.

Stakeholders have opinions which may lead to criticism or reduction in co-op advertising support. Government leaders who fund the DMO begin to weigh in on the “chatter” from the stakeholder community. But, in the end, branding is not about the opinions of the DMO team, the stakeholders or governmental leaders. It’s about what the target audience will respond to. It’s about what establishes strong brand equity and makes customers take action.

Another challenge is that stand alone tourism visions and brands don’t necessarily inspire or excite the broader community – all those people not in the tourism industry. What could work more effectively is when the tourism industry participates in developing a broader community vision behind which the tourism vision can ride in the “slipstream. ”So many tourism organizations try to “go it alone” but like in the Tour de France doing your own thing can be very limiting.

The strongest tourism brands, in terms of community support, will be those that complement and help fulfil a deeper community vision. This combined with the early involvement of community leaders and stakeholder will help DMOs achieve greater horizontal and vertical integration of brand messaging and marketing efforts.

The word “branding” can be a noun or a verb. The verb is the effort to influence brand perceptions in your customers’ minds. But, the noun is what actually exists in your customers’ minds. If you’re not Coca-Cola or Nike, it’s likely you have scarce resources to do the verb and thus a limited ability to control the noun. Your only hope is achieving a broad buy-in from your stakeholders so that more shoulders are put to the brand wheel.

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Author: Dennis Campbell