DES: England's Warwickshire County (pronounced: Waricksher) made a bold move by narrowing its brand focus on its single, biggest asset - the late, great English playwright and poet - William Shakespeare.
TINA: Despite the inevitable protests from stakeholders outside the Shakespeare industry, Warwickshire pushed through its big brand idea to the extent that a large sign on the County borders welcomes visitors to 'Shakespeare Country'.
DES: Once inside Shakespeare Country - which is centered around the Bard's birthplace - Stratford-upon-Avon - visitors are seamlessly persuaded to also experience other neighbouring destinations such as Warwick Castle, Leamington Spa and Rugby.
TINA: But despite its brand focus, tourism over the last 4 years or so is on a downward path - a trend which started before the re-development of one of its flagship attractions - the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
DES: OK Tina, let's see if we can identify what Warwickshire and its Shakespeare industry needs to do, to first stop the statistical slide and then perhaps reverse the graph in an upwards direction.
TINA: I think there needs to be a two-pronged plan of attack, starting with improving the tourism experience, and not just at the main Shakespeare sites, but also throughout Stratford's infrastructure - from the River Avon to the main entrances and exits.
DES: I agree, the Shakespeare experience needs to be upgraded for the 21st Century visitor. But let's now focus on the second part of your brand plan.
TINA: This is where most destinations tend to fall down. They either take visitors back into the past, or help them experience the past in the present.
DES: Well, what's so wrong with that?
TINA: Nothing at all. In fact experiencing the past and the present are two of the crucial factors in destination branding.
DES: I guess what you're alluding to is the vital third factor?
TINA: Absolutely. And that factor is - the future. Destination brands like Warwickshire County need to future-focus their big brand idea.
DES: In Part 2, we'll re-visit Warwickshire to discuss how best this literary county could future-focus Brand Bard and make his works relevant to contemporary society as it moves forward - within and without the literati - at home as well as abroad.
'Brand Bard' the Marketect says:
"First you attract with a proposition;
Single, branded, unique and saleable.
Then you distract through fine experience;
Many products varied and buyable."
(A BIG Thank You to Elizabeth Woledge, Editor of Shakespeare at the Centre for the above Shakespearian-style verse.)
1. One of Warwickshire's Middle England neighbours - Nottinghamshire - needs to take a leaf out of its brand playbook by narrowing its brand strategy on its legendary icon, but with a future-focus.
2. Compare and contrast Warwickshire County's brand focus with that of Somerset County.