With competition among destinations stronger than ever, an effective brand can help a country or region stand out from the crowd.
Here’s how tourism organisations for Korea and England developed their current brands, and tips on creating a strong identity.
Despite hosting the 1988 Olympics and 2002 World Cup, Korea failed to build a long-term, consistent tourism image.
“There was a sense that the Hermit Kingdom, with no iconic Great Wall or Mount Fuji, lacked a distinctive association in consumers’ minds,” said Korea Tourism Organisation PR manager Ramy Salameh.
“It therefore needed a strong, global brand to distinguish itself from competitors, such as Malaysia and Singapore.”
There already existed a top-tier national brand, Dynamic Korea, which represented all aspects of Korea including economy, society and culture.
Korea, Sparkling, with that all-important comma, sits under this umbrella brand and was created to demonstrate the dynamic energy and passion of all things Korean.
VisitBritain promotes England to the UK market and in 2003 it introduced its Enjoy England branding.
“There was a need to change perceptions in the domestic market about what a holiday in England represents,” said marketing manager UK and Ireland Amanda Smyth.
“England was being overlooked in favour of overseas holidays and so we needed a strong core brand that reflected the country’s vibrancy and immediacy.”
The process began with VisitBritain consulting its key stakeholders and questioning customers. This identified three values that represented England and which are encapsulated in the brand: real, fun and indulgence.
“We work with tourism partners across England,” said Smyth, “so it was also important to develop a brand they could adopt.”
The Enjoy England brand has been used in multi-partner campaigns and has helped raise awareness that a holiday in England can be as fun as going abroad.
Tips: how to transform country’s brand
- Build enough awareness of the destination before considering creating a brand.
- Stick with it. Give the brand a chance to work.
- Be brave – no one will hear you if you don’t shout loud enough.
- Honesty counts. Visitors who believed the marketing spin and found it less than truthful won’t be impressed.
- Ensure the locals buy into the idea and commit to deliver the promise.
- Do your research.
- Ensure the brand values are true and not imposed.
- Have a simple and compelling message that is easy to get across in different formats.
- Check the brand constantly and adapt communications to reflect changing perceptions.
- Keep it in sync with the image people already have of the county.