Destination Branding: The Key Essentials for Success

Travel is one of the largest industries in the world, with several trillion dollars spent globally by travellers each year, and within that mix, destination branding has become an increasingly important part of the marketing strategy for locations and the businesses that serve their area’s tourist demographic.

 

Destination branding, or place branding, can be complex. There are a multitude of brand strategies specifically related to the needs of products or services – but location branding is effectively a combination of all those offerings collectively. Building a destination brand strategy can focus on several top line or key targets, depending on the area and the offerings, which may include:

  • Understanding and highlighting the market perceptions of your destination
  • Capturing the unique essence of your destination and its special attributes
  • Building on media and cultural references that link to your destination

  

  

Creating and Amplifying Market Expectations

When it comes to destinations, many people already have a certain perception in mind. Everyone “knows” that if you’re visiting England, there’s a high likely hood it might rain and the royal family with its historic associations (pomp and circumstance, events or historic locations) might also feature on your radar, and in Egypt first time visitors might expect to be surrounded by pyramids and camels wherever they go! Of course those clichés and people’s perceptions aren’t always right!

 

The first step for any successful destination branding campaign is to understand how your destination is perceived and then either change tired expectations, or amplify more unique positive ones. The expectation of the experience is all in the brand promise of destination brand, and your branding needs to really ‘dial up’ the experience that you want your destination to reflect, and be associated with, in a way that’s truly unique and relevant to your primary target audience.

 

Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority of Ireland, does this very well through one of their more recent marketing campaigns of the Wild Atlantic Way where you can experience one of the wildest, most enchanting and culturally rich coastal touring routes in the world. Wherever you travel along the Wild Atlantic Way you’ll find magic, adventure, history and beauty in abundance. Divided into five main sections each part offers you memories that will last a lifetime. The brand story and video are very compelling – whether you’re native Irish born or an overseas visitor!

 

 

  

Another example of a successful image-changing campaign based around expectations comes from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), the official destination marketing organization of Las Vegas. When tourism declined in “Sin City” following the 9-11 attacks and a number of unsuccessful attempts by some businesses to position themselves as “family friendly,” the LVCVA developed a massive campaign called “What Happens Here, Stays Here.”

 

 

 

The branding campaign, which included a dedicated website and several brief and humorous TV commercials, worked to recapture audience perception of Las Vegas as a place for adults to have slightly risky fun with no lasting consequences. Overall, the strategy was successful at driving tourist traffic and creating a strong brand for Las Vegas.

 

New Zealand has been highly successful at capitalizing on audience expectations that were created through the worldwide hit movie series The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, based on the classic fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien and filmed in New Zealand.

  

 

  

Air New Zealand cashed in on the Hobbit craze with its safety video and Tourism New Zealand embraced the idea that their country was now seen as “Middle-Earth,” and created an ad campaign around that perception to reinforce the brand.

  

    

Aside from the country itself, some New Zealand businesses have also capitalized on the worldwide fame resulting from the movies—such as The Green Dragon pub, the original film set for the Hobbit pub in The Lord of the Rings movies, which became an actual pub that’s open to the public.

  

Green Dragon Pub Hobbiton Nz 

 Image via www.dailymail.co.uk and London Media

  

  

Capitalizing on Personality and Character

One of the most effective strategies for destination branding is the ability to define, articulate, and convey the unique qualities of your particular destination. This strategy delves into the primal mindset of the traveller – people head out on holiday to get away from their everyday lives and experience something completely new.

 

Successful destination branding is all about that tangible experience at every touch point for your primary audience. This starts from the moment they start thinking about visiting your location, possibly prompted by your successful marketing campaign, to the moment they arrive. Every one of those ‘brand experiences’ must positively reinforce what your brand stands for and what makes it different to your competitors, reaffirming they made the right choice and your destination is even better than they expected! You want them to leave ‘wanting to come back’ and enthusiastically referring your destination to friends and family or better still extolling ‘your destinations virtues’ on social channels.

 

Australia is most assuredly a unique location, and Tourism Australia has found incredible success with their destination branding efforts by highlighting the characteristics of the land, the people, and the wildlife that can be found nowhere else. The organisation’s advertising campaign, “There’s Nothing Like Australia,” uses powerful visuals and dramatic music and narration to project the excitement of Australia directly to viewers.

 

  

In addition, Tourism Australia offers multimedia presentations through their Bringing the Brand to Life website section, which explore their branding concepts and strategies through video series and a book.

 

 

Hitching Your Wagon to the Stars

Media tie-ins are a powerful branding strategy, and there are plenty of resources for destination branding. One particularly strong example can be found with the UK and VisitBritain, a tourism organisation that is working to change the sometimes slightly grey or stuffy perceptions some of the world associates with the UK, and highlight the beauty and excitement to be found throughout this stunning and incredibly culturally rich country.

  

For example, VisitBritain created an international commercial that was shown in theatres around the world in conjunction with Skyfall, one of the more recent iconic James Bond movie series. The commercial shows the evolution of Bond through various actors who have played the British superspy, and brings it all together by urging audiences to visit Britain and “live like Bond.”

 

  

VisitBritan has also launched a series of celebrity commercials, in which globally recognized Brits explore what they love about the country. Dame Judy Dench performs a spot that revolves around Hever Castle in Kent, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, one of King Henry VIII many wives! Other commercials in this series star Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame, prominent English model and actress Twiggy, and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

 

 

  

 

  

Bringing Them to You

At its heart, destination branding follows the same principles as any other successful branding strategy, though typically on a much larger scale. One of the keys to successful destination branding is to be very clear on ‘what your brand stands for’, what makes your brand different to your competitors and to follow through on this with a very clear and compelling picture of how you’re going to fulfill that promise and meet those expectations. 

 

You’ve got to connect with your audience on their terms at a very personal level, maintain consistency through every aspect of your branding – from the distillation of your branding promise throughout, to your brand experience at every customer touch point and how everything ‘looks and feels’ from a brand style perspective. It must all look and feel like it all unmistakably comes from the same ‘stable’ and be irresistible to your primary target customer in a way that’s truly relevant to them.

 

What do you think?

 

• How does your potential audience currently perceive your destination?

 

• What are the perceptions you’re looking to create for your market?

 

• How can you develop an expectation of your unique experience, and follow through on your brand promise?

 

• What makes your destination unique and worth visiting and how can you leverage that more powerfully?

 

• Are there any global media tie-ins you can connect with your destination brand?

 

 

FMCG Branding: Going for Gold with Fast Moving Consumer Goods

The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector is one of the most volatile and toughest categories in which to succeed and sometimes considered the birthplace of modern branding. The competition has always been fierce and the fight for wallet share never more challenging then it is now.

 

Today’s FMCG industry is a multi-billion dollar sector that’s typically dominated by well-established household brands around the globe, from Coca-Cola to Kraft to Henkel. Breaking into that market as a new brand can be a serious challenge, particularly when you’re up against global powerhouses that have ruled their respective niches for decades with deep pockets. Having said that though, smaller brands have more opportunities to make their impact with limited resources than they ever had before, which helps level the playing field a little!

 

 Kraft Logo

Image via www.kraftfoodsgroup.com

 

The question is how do you move from a ‘C’ or ‘D’ tier, largely unknown, consumer product to become a recognized household brand? Success in the FMCG sector is no longer epitomized by just ‘nice’ logos and good packaging alone—modern consumers expect far more.

 

The most successful brands are consistently creating an authentic customer experience around their consumable products, one that is worthwhile and personally engaging. These brands give their core target audience a more compelling reason to buy and create brand perceptions through their brands personality, promise, values, story and total brand world per se, which their customers find irresistible.

 

The following is an insight into what some of the most successful FMCG companies are doing to maintain consistently captivating brands. What keeps them front of mind in terms of customer preferences, and how you can incorporate these strategies into your own brand building efforts.

 

 

Aligning With And Focusing on Your Core Target Audience

While it may seem counterintuitive, the key to becoming a household brand is not to try appealing to a broader audience—it is to be desirable to the right core target audience. You need to know your market, your competitors, and your sector’s environment intimately, so you can focus on developing your branding strategy specifically tailored towards your primary customers – those who are most likely to buy fully into your brand and what it stands for.

 

Understanding not only what your ideal customers wants, but also how your offering can enhance their lives is hugely important. It’s only when you truly understand their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations that you can really craft a concise and focused brand message that cuts through the noise.

 

Consumers are bombarded with thousands of messages from multiple channels 24/7. Your challenge is to deliver the right message, on target to catch their much sought after attention, at the right time and then, most importantly, to hold their attention. You need to develop a customer avatar which you then use to underpin your brand proposition and profile.

 

 Johnsons Baby Logo

Image via www.johnsonsbaby.com

  

Your brand should clearly indicate why and how you’ll meet your customers needs and that you understand what really matters to them. If yours is a family orientated brand then broadly speaking it might be important to communicate reliability, safety, and trust. However you need to dig deeper beyond just the general to the specific and identify more detailed characteristics to bring your brand alive in a way that’s meaningful, distinctive and different to your audience.

 

Millennials might enjoy quirky humor that helps mark your offerings as innovative but you still need to add something more unique to your brand story to help it standout and stick. Overall luxury brands focus on quality and prestige but they still need to develop other attributes, messages and stories that make their brand experience exclusive to them alone.

 

 

Developing Brand Loyalty

Returning customers are the heart of every successful company—and this is especially true in the FMCG sector where products are typically consumed quickly and frequently. Brand loyalty is critical to your long term success and you need to develop a brand strategy that helps ensure your customers become tunnel visioned with regard to your brand when they go shopping.

 

You want them to become blinkered to see only your brand offering so they buy it automatically because they aren’t even open to considering others. When you continue to meet their needs your loyal customers will not only continue to purchase your brand, they’ll become brand advocates encouraging family and friends to switch to your brand too.

 

How do you create brand loyalty? Many businesses make the mistake of trying to compete on price alone where only those with the deepest pockets can win. Customers aren’t necessarily looking for just the cheapest product. Cheap rarely engenders ongoing brand loyalty. Customers typically look for the right blend of quality and value, and many are willing to pay more for a brand they can trust and meets their needs on multiple other levels too. It’s also important to note that value doesn’t mean just price, it’s the complete mix of what the brand has to offer – your brand promise, brand values, brand culture, corporate social responsibility, customer experience, your way of doing things in your brand world etc. that collectively all add up to enhance perceived brand value.

 

 

One strong example of this is Johnson & Johnson, the global leader in baby care products. Johnson’s Baby has been helping parents and doctors give babies a healthy, happy start in life for more than 100 years – what a brand legacy. This company understands what its primary customers want – to give their babies a healthy, happy start in life because ‘every moment with your little one is precious’. 

 

 

 

Saving money might feature somewhere in the mix with parents but babies health and happiness is the primary focus, and not at the expense of their child’s care. They are looking for products with safe, gentle ingredients, backed by a company that genuinely cares about the well-being of babies. Everything Johnson & Johnson does is done to reinforce that message, be it through the products themselves, its CSR strategy or advocacy in baby skin care or baby sleeping advice etc. This is an ethical, quality-focused ‘caring’ brand, successfully engaging its audience by pulling at the heart strings through all its communications strategies – which all but the cynical and hard nosed would find hard to resist. 

 

  

Telling Your Brand Story in a Way That’s Relevant

Storytelling is more than just a buzzword. Creating authenticity with an emotional connection and an element of curiosity is very important to help distinguish your brand from the barrage of the external market. When you communicate your own brand journey, your growth and your message to potential customers, you’re able to connect with them on a more meaningful level.

 

 

 

The Askinosie chocolate brand story shows how its really important and worked for this relatively new confectionary company. Their target market consists of environmentally aware customers who typically shop in organic health food stores. Askinosie sets their brand apart through their packaging and their brand story which really resonates with their customers. Each of their chocolate bar wrappers relates personal stories about the cocoa farmers that supply the company with raw ingredients. The focus is on their relationship with Askinosie as business partners who are well compensated with prices that are higher than Fair Trade.

  

 Askinosie Chocolate Packaging

Image via www.askinosie.com

   

Great brand stories can help you elevate your products into the top tier and are a critical part of the successful brand mix and keep your customers coming back for more. A note of warning though – the brand values from your story and the promise it articulates must be consistently lived and demonstrated throughout the business at every level of interaction internally and externally every day.

 

Changing With The Times

The market is constantly evolving, and your brand must be flexible enough to keep up with the changing times. Successful FMCG brands understand how to recognize trends and implement shifts in strategy that will help them continue to stay relevant and meet market requirements over the years and decades.

 

 Starbucks Logo

Image via www.starbucks.com 

Starbucks in spite of all its ups and downs has largely maintained a strong grasp of its market combined with a willingness to change, and has managed to remain one of the most recognized global brands. The Seattle-based company began as a local retail coffee store, and grew into a worldwide chain that caters to customers looking for an upscale coffee experience. By combining quality coffee with a diverse range of related products, a pleasant relaxing environment in which to enjoy their coffee and engaging with their customers more personally—and treating their employees better than other coffee chains—Starbucks has dominated its niche. 

 

 

  

However, there is a fine line between staying relevant and incorporating new trends versus losing sight of what your brand really stands for by inadvertently ‘muddying the waters’ so to speak with an excessive plethora of confusing brand messages. You must always remain true to the core of what you stand for, whether yours is a well established brand or more recent launch to market.

 

Hershey Logo 

Image via www.hersheys.com

 

Hershey’s has seen a decline in recent times compounded by overenthusiastic trend-chasing activities. In recent years, the company’s brand promise of simple, tasty chocolate has been lagging behind in their efforts to anticipate changing tastes. Extreme diversification has resulted in a confusing tangle of confectionery varieties: milk, dark, and white chocolate with a variety of fillings, coatings and new flavours—all of which is somewhat confusing in its marketing to customers who just want an original Hershey bar.

  

 

Developing Your Brand Message

Strong branding is a vital factor for long term success in the ultra-competitive FMCG industry. In order to create a strong and compelling brand message, you need to fully understand your target customers, including:

  • Who they are: Demographics, motivations, trends, and demands
  • Why they buy: Specific needs and wants (rational and emotional)
  • What they buy: The look and feel of the products they prefer
  • Where / how they buy: Channel preferences, point of sale activities
  • How they consume: Key usage situations for your products

 

Pinpoint your target audience, and develop your brand strategy to focus on the things that matter most to them. Transform your offerings into an experience that will keep your customers returning, and create brand ambassadors who will recommend you to like-minded customers. Focus on what helps elevate and grow your brand and your customer base will expand with you.

 

What do you think?

 • How does your FMCG brand differentiate from your competitors?

 

• What message are you conveying with your brand? What should you convey?

 

• How can you tell the story of your brand more effectively?

 

• What steps are you taking to create brand loyalty?

 

• Has your brand evolved to stay relevant with the changing market—without losing sight of your core?

Brand Heart: Are You Bringing Your Brand To Life In Your Work Space?

Hearing someone say they work at Google seems to have the same effect on every listener regardless of their industry background…Wow!

 

Google Green Dublin 

 

It’s a true testament to the Google leaders that they have created a reputation of being such a desirable place to work, but lets face it, it’s not just because of the type of work carried out there. With unique, fun, quirky, often bizarre office interiors, which include slides, video games and ski-gondolas, Google lead the way in a trend to change the traditional view of what a corporate office should look and feel like. There is method to the supposed madness.

  

 Google Office Slide

  

Google, Facebook, Airbnb and so many of the newer global companies, along with a few of the longer established, understand that the culture and physical experience of your company is a huge part of your company brand. They understand that it is the people and living experience internally behind the brands that help to dictate how the brand is perceived externally.

 

 Google Ski Lifts

 

An office is far more than walls, desks and computers. It’s a recruitment tool, a second home and a place to inspire those who work within. If a leader’s job is to get the best from their employees then part of that responsibility is creating a space that motivates people to make the most of shaping and growing their brand.

 

 Facebook Office Pan

 

If you care about company culture and authentic brand experience then the office space matters. It is an important part of how the employee views their work. But flashy spaces, open plan offices and bean bags are not for everyone. A place without quite spaces can be just as ineffective as grey cardboard cubicles. There are certain elements however that will provide triggers to employees and customers alike about the company culture that may need to be addressed.

 

 Facebook Office Photo

 

• Collaborative Space

You don’t have to be a creative company to have a need for a collaborative space. If people arrive into the office, go to their desk and stay there until the end of the day then the company is not maximizing the benefits that come from employee interactions between the company thinkers and innovators. A dedicated collaborative space that can be used for informal interactions can make employees more comfortable to contribute, to share opinions and develop new ideas.

 

 Google Hq Zurich

 

• Brand Ambassadors

Employees are your brand ambassadors. Creating an office space that reminds them each day of what they and the brand are trying to achieve can be a powerful motivator.

 

Mindvalley Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 

 

• Reflect Your Core Brand Values

If sustainability is an important ‘value’ underpinning your brand, then this should be communicated using internal triggers as well as external communication. Using and promoting recyclable materials within the office for example ensures that those working to build the brand understand that the company genuinely believes and lives by the values they promote. You are authentically living that brand value and reinforcing it everyday in what you do.

     

Education First Lucerne Switzerland 

      

• Recruit The Best

Google and Facebook offices are designed not only to serve current employees, but to attract the best talent. They use their office space to communicate the type of culture they promote internally and to attract ‘like minded’ people who can fit within that culture and become part of the brand family. Both understand the needs of the people that work for them and have been hugely beneficial to the organisation, as employees reciprocate with high levels or productivity and efficiency.

 

 Vocus Beltsville Maryland

 

• Create Customer Cues

PR and advertising can support a strategy that communicates a brand’s vision and values, but that can be destroyed at the workplace if the office space doesn’t align with the promise of your brand message. If your brand communicates a sense of community or creativity, but your offices are comprised of people working separately behind closed doors what kind of message does this send to your customers? Internal triggers and experiences can make a significant external impact. Even reception rooms and meeting room names can tell a story that reflects the brand. Think about your customer’s brand journey. How would your offices influence the customer’s perspective and experience of your brand?

 

 Airbnb Conference Room Mushroom Cabin In Aptos California

 

Company culture is not something that can be created from blueprints. It is something that is shaped by the people working within. Leaders can influence it, they can coax and enable the desired type of brand culture but even the well intentioned leader can inadvertently establish dysfunctional workplaces by creating a workspace that is at odds with the brand values and messages the employees are working to shape.

 

Google may have developed a reputation of a fun, goofy place to work, but what it really signifies is a deep understanding by its leaders, that the environment can play a significant role in creating the balance needed to promote problem solving and creativity in an industry that demands both.

 

If you can’t glean clues about the brand or the people behind it from walking in the door of the office you could be in trouble. Get your office ‘on brand’, and it could play a valuable part in supporting your innovation, productivity levels, marketing mix and consequently profitability coupled with long term success. 

• What do you think of some of the world’s ‘coolest’ offices?

  

• How does yours compare? Is it ‘on brand’ or congruent with what your brand stands for?

  

• Does your office space encourage collaboration, innovation and creativity?

   

• Does your office space reflect your brand culture?