Differentiating Your Destination
As communities begin to recognize the economic value of tourism to their region, the competition to attract visitors is increasing. This competition has resulted in the need for communities to set themselves apart from other destinations therefore, differentiating your destination has become more important than ever before.
What is Destination Branding?
Your brand is what will set your apart from everyone else, it is your promise and pledge of quality. A Destination brand promises the visitor a unique experience that they cannot get somewhere else. Your community must be able to live up to the brand promise therefore, your brand should fit your community's vision. Branding is not just a logo, a picture or a slogan, it is the essence of the destination, including why it is great, and how it is better than all competing regions. Destination branding is about who you are, what you stand for and how people experience you.
Why differentiate your destination?
Differentiating your destination is important because it can set you apart from other locations. A well-branded community can influence the visitor's destination choice; your brand promises the visitor a quality experience in your community, one they feel, only you can offer. Creating a successful brand involves asking yourself what activity is being promoted, who is the target market, and what products or services are being offered. The following are things to think about as your community works toward developing it's destination brand.
Since your brand will set expectations for your visitors, it must be derived from your destination's attributes and ensure your brand promise rings true. Therefore, understanding your destination is key, do you know your destination?
Once you are confident you know your destination, how do you want visitors to perceive you (as a historic destination, a natural or eco-tourism destination, outdoor adventure, friendly and sincere)? Your identity will send a message so be sure you are in control! Choose what you are best at and focus your energy there. What makes your destination special or unique?
A brand's value proposition is a statement of the functional and emotional benefits delivered by the brand that provide value to the customer. Develop a brand statement and promise that supports the attributes and emotional appeal of your destination and remember, your brand's reputation depends on whether your destination is able to consistently keep the brand promise. Is the promise you make to your visitors one you can keep? To effectively deliver on the brand promise everyone in the community should be aware of it - can you effectively communicate your brand promise to your community and do they support it? Developing a brand book communicates the brand clearly and consistently to everyone in the community. It is where the brand is described with guidelines for those in the community to help them represent the brand in every visitor encounter.
Your brand promise also needs to be communicated to your target market. Who are the visitors you are targeting? Can you identify successful existing clients, or those you would like to target? Make sure your tourism products and experiences support what your visitors are looking for. This is a good time to review visitor feedback and market research. When marketing your destination it is important that you have done solid research on your community and your visitors. Do you have a fully integrated destination marketing program supported by research?
Your brand statement and promise should be used as the beacon to guide all marketing activities and visitor contact. Do all aspects of your marketing plan support your brand statement? Develop a good logo, one that tells your story and is aligned with your brand. Does your logo communicate your brand? Once your community has developed a brand show the world who you are!