We have been asked to help with a few travel brands over the years. And, we got to build the foundation back in 2004 that made the Azores an emerging brand and destination. But while it is not brain surgery — launching a travel brand is pretty complicated and an evolving field that requires a great deal of thought. There are a few reasons why this is so complicated. First, thousands of destinations compete to win the crown of “hot destination.” I have been to some very cool places of late, from Troy New York to Toronto – but, they don’t come up on everyone’s radar. In this age of “over tourism” Americans’ are looking for more off the beaten path destinations. I know, having launched and overseen an effort to introduce the world to Concord NH.
Be specific. The worst brands are general and non-specific. Years ago, New Hampshire struggled to market itself doing a “you are going to love it here” brand — but while it was positive, it had nothing to do with what makes New Hampshire a great destination. The the vanilla slogan could be about virtually anywhere. A brand has to be specific and offer a call to action. Basically, you boil down all that makes you special into a brand- and then test that brand with key audiences to make sure it resonates.
But the next steps are tricky. Just having a nice brand is great, but it won’t win the war. The key to success is the consistency of message. Consistency is the glue the holds a brand together. The brand’s message, color, call to action and values need to be clear and consistent across the website’s signage.
Then comes SEO (search engine optimization)-you need good SEO to introduce your brand to new eyes. The web is where the world goes to get information. You can’t just market to your existing customer base. Good SEO means that you can get your info in front of potential new customers, just by syncing your content with their searches.
Lastly, everyone needs not only to buy in but to be an ambassador to the brand. So, if your brand is “take it easy” but the airport, check-in and traffic is complicated, then your brand stinks. Everyone is an ambassador, and the best brands get buy-in before they launch.
Little steps, but take them, and you will be on the road to branding success.