Destination and tourism brands often fail

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

1 March 2012

Tourism brands can go deeper for greater preference

There are very few industries more interesting to rebrand than destination and tourism. That’s because the best tourism brands tie what the actual destination represents with who the travelers are when they visit that particular and unique destination.

Las Vegas, with its “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” is the best example. It says both what Las Vegas is about (dirty fun) and links that meaning to who you are, therefore, when you visit there (got a bit of a wild side that you don’t really want people to know about).

“But, for the most part, destinations simply build the category of travel without creating its own unique preference for that destination.”

However, most tourism brands just slap their name on marketing that just builds the particular category they are in, with messaging either on price, “getting away” and/or “escaping.”

Case in point: Jamaica. Recently, it put up wallscapes on buildings in New York City and they are quite compelling, suggesting some of the work of reclusive graffiti artist Banksy.

tourism brandsBut let’s examine it a bit more closely. In terms of meaning, it taps into a yearning by those it’s trying to reach. Namely, that New York is getting you frazzled and you need a break. The use of those in cold weather clothing, then taking them off as they enter the beach is quite clever.

Here’s the thing, though. This could be for anywhere, not just Jamaica. Basically, it’s just saying escape to warm weather or any tropical destination. It simply reflects those who want to escape New York City. Not about escaping New York City to Jamaica. There’s nothing unique about Jamaica in it.

Tourism brands must go beyond just their location’s benefits

Basically, it’s not creating preference for Jamaica. It’s creating preference for the category.

Tourism brands have an inherent advantage because that individual destination has its own associations. But, for the most part, destinations simply build the category of travel without creating its own unique preference for that destination. It doesn’t matter how interesting the creative work is.

It’s simply not strategic.

Maybe the preference-building destination rebranding did stay in Vegas after all. Because nobody else has seen it since.

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