In Branding, Tourism

Is your branding spot-on or off target? Companies can spend lots of time and money building their brand, however even the most popular businesses can make missteps. The best branding is a continual ongoing effort—make a plan, stick with it and evaluate what you are doing and whether it’s best for your brand. Don’t fall for these common branding mistakes:

  1. Not putting the message as your #1 priority. At the very top of the top 10 branding mistakes is overlooking the importance of your messaging. The old adage that a picture’s worth a thousand words is of secondary value in your branding exercise. First, you need a carefully crafted, concise brand message that you can live up to and that will resonate with your target audience. Ask yourself: Is it believable, deliverable, unique? Can you tell me what your brand stands for in about 15 seconds? We nicknamed it the elevator message (to reflect the time you have to express your brand before the elevator doors close), and it’s the foundation of your brand.
  1. Having a herd mentality. See a brand you like? Learn from it, but don’t imitate it. A “me too” position in the market is a dead end. Determine what your competition is doing, and then see what you can do differently. For the luxurious Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the “Kiawah is the One” campaign capitalizes on the destination’s #1 North American Island accolade—an extraordinary distinction no other property can claim.

kiawah resort branding

  1. Being all things to all people. Another common brand blunder is trying to please everyone. The National Conference Center understands that its brand is directed to serious meeting planners, and that trying to be a family-friendly hotel and a productive meeting destination can lead to disaster. That’s why this series of humorous videos entitled “When Bad Things Happen to Good Planners” gets right to the heart of The National’s brand. Check out Disaster: Distractions.
  1. Not segmenting your message. Of course, there’s an exception to #3 (being all things to all people). Some brands (like destinations) need to appeal to a wider variety of target audiences. That’s where segmentation works brilliantly. For New Jersey’s “We’re for you” campaign, the brand messaging is tailored for different tourism interests like culture, history, outdoors and romantic getaways to encourage visitors to consider New Jersey for more than a beach vacation.
  1. Not finding your (brand) voice. Your target audience will quickly pick up on your brand if you give it a voice. Formal or breezy? Nurturing or all business? Quirky or sophisticated? We like how Visit Philadelphia has given its “With Love, Philadelphia XOXO” campaign a little Philly attitude.
  1. Changing for change’s sake. Let’s face it: You’ll be tired of your brand message and look way, way before your target audience. Certainly you can refresh every few years, but building brand equity means staying the course. Look at the “Virginia is for Lovers” campaign. It’s been working since 1969.
  1. Not integrating your brand into all mediums. Whether your brand is classic and traditional, or hip and edgy, you should reflect those brand qualities everywhere: from the in-room directory to your corporate Facebook page, elevator signage to Twitter. Kimpton Hotels takes brand integration all the way to the hotel robe hanging in the closet. The boutique hotel collection delights guests with animal-print robes, which reflect the brand’s sense of fun and whimsy.
  1. Not giving your team access to branding tools. Once you’ve launched your brand message, be sure your team is on the same page. Don’t skip (or skimp on) the brand guide. This is your bible. From the front desk to back of the house, every member of your team should be able to speak to the brand comfortably, send out communications that reflect the brand’s voice and prepare basic marketing materials that adhere to your brand vision. Avoid that branding “loose cannon” by giving your team brand-appropriate sales scripts, email signatures, letterheads, business cards, PowerPoint and flyer templates.
  1. Not aligning CSR with the brand. Not only is corporate social responsibility an industry buzzword, it makes good business sense to add those feel-good elements to your brand. Just avoid “pet projects” and look for opportunities that complement your brand messaging. The all-inclusive Palace Resorts supports one of its brand pillars—spectacular beach locations—with efforts to protect sea turtle nests, helping to ensure optimum conditions for the release of baby turtles.
  1. Wearing brand blinders. This may be the biggest blunder of all. It’s a mindset that keeps you from elevating and evaluating your brand. As a tropical paradise, “sand and surf” is an obvious selling point for the Hawaiian Islands. But the campaign for the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau promotes cultural experiences unique to the islands (think aloha spirit!) to motivate travel agents to learn more in its official destination specialist program.

Ready to see the bigger brand picture? Contact Lynn Kaniper at or 609.466.9187 ext. 117 today.

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