A creative conversation between Des and Tina, Brandopia's mythical brand developers
DES: Sweden's capital city - Stockholm - in a desperate attempt to attract well-heeled travellers, has infuriated its Scandinavian neighbours in Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki. TINA:The problem first surfaced when the Swedish capital's tourist board launched a new campaign, branding Stockholm "The Capital of Scandinavia".
This was like waving a red flag in the face of the Danes, Norwegians and Finns, who see the campaign as yet another prime example of Swedish
DES: Whilst it's true that most outsiders perceive Stockholm to be the dominant city in the region, and that it's a good sign when your competitors start complaining about your brand campaign, but when at the same time you need the co-operation of your pan-regional neighbours, a covert brand strategy is the order of the day. TINA:Witness how Edinburgh, covertly out-manoeuvred its bigger rival Glasgow, to become the capital of a devolved Scotland, as Glasgow got side-tracked promoting meaningless slogans such as 'Glasgow's (s)Miles Better' and 'GlasGrow For It'. (See footnote: Edinburgh).
DES:To re-gain the co-operation of its regional neighbours, Stockholm should play down its overt 'Capital of Scandinavia' brand message, and start championing a single big brand idea for Brand Scandinavia. TINA:And the obvious big brand idea?
DES: Scandinavian Style. TINA:I absolutely agree. Witness the traditional and modernist pan-regional style - in architecture, furniture, fashion, electronics, toys & games, glassmaking, metalwork and ceramics.
DES: Scandinavia boasts some of the world's biggest commercial style brands - from Bang & Olufsen to IKEA to Nokia. TINA:The fusion of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish styles gives Brand Scandinavia a fabulous future-focus, integrating and generating tourism, inward investments and exports.
'Brand' the Marketect says: "Uncover your big brand idea from within the cultural clashes found in your destination's population - in their beliefs, attitudes, habits, rituals, skills, talents or taboos."
Footnote: Edinburgh, having established itself as the official capital of a devolved Scotland, this prosperous city should now help to build its brand category ie.Scotland, which despite owning arguably one of the world's most recognisable visual identities - tartan, bagpipes & thistle - this nation is in dire need of a future-focused, cultural brand strategy, designed to generate sustained prosperity throughout the country - islands, highlands and lowlands.
A creative conversation between Des and Tina, Brandopia's mythical brand developers
DES: Europe's first conference on the future of a Caribbean single market was held in London a couple of months back. TINA:One of the many issues discussed was the future branding of the Caribbean.
DES: Many delegates from that region were concerned with being pigeon-holed as the region of 'white sands, palm trees and turquoise waters' and not much else. TINA:A brand image many competing regions would die for.
DES: What the Caribbean must not attempt is a marketing mission impossible - trying to change its universally-held perception. TINA:A strategy that Australia is sadly embarking on. Tired of its rugged, Outback paradise for backpackers, it wants to show Australia in 'A Different Light'.
DES: A brand strategy that's bound to fail as it tries to compete with film re-runs like 'Crocodile Dundee', TV repeats such as 'The Crocodile Hunter' and endless Australian beer commercials re-inforcing Oz's rough and tough macho identity. TINA:What the Aussies shouldn't forget, is that the budget backpackers of today return as the high-spending visitors and investors of tomorrow. Which is why its sub-brands need to be brought into play - from vast wine regions, to sophisticated cities, to sun-soaked resorts.
DES: Australia, Margaret River, Sydney and the Gold Coast may all be lumped together on the world map, but in the universal mind map, each can be branded to be positioned in uniquely different places. TINA:So Brand Caribbean should accept its current positive perception but build a big brand idea based on that powerful perception, to compete with other destination brands such as Blue Hawaii. For example - The Green Easy - aimed at the growing slow movement - the antidote to the fast and furious pace of the rat race - a fully-integrated brand concept to generate sustainable tourism, inward investments and quality exports.
DES: And it must then go on to develop its sub-regional brands, such as the British Caribbean and the Dutch Caribbean to name just two - each with their own unique single focus. TINA:By creating a portfolio of brands within the hierarchy - from pan-region to sub-region to country to island to resort - a single market Caribbean brand has an exciting and sustainable future.
'Brand' the Marketect says: "The 'Hierarchy of Destination Brands' is a powerful brand portfolio strategy whose time has come". (Note: For a Q&A session on The Hierarchy of Destination Brands seminar, please click on 'World Travel Market' under the Categories section in the right-hand side bar or click here for the session featuring the Caribbean)
A creative conversation on the biggest story on earth betweenLaura Ries (pictured) - President of Atlanta-based Ries&Ries, the world's best-known marketing strategy firm, andAlan 'Brand' Williamson, Destination Brand Developer.
Alan: The Boxing Day Tsunami was a human tragedy of mind-blowing proportions. But such is the power of the human spirit, that Travel Impact Newswire reported that the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) has recently announced a global marketing programme to achieve its ambitious target: 20 million visitors by 2006.
For the first time, the coastal regions of the affected countries have been indelibly linked together in the universal collective consciousness. From the Maldives, Sri Lanka and India's Tamilnadu in the West, to the coastal regions of Thailand, Indonesia and the Andaman/Nicoba islands in the East. Q: Is there a potential virtual brand development opportunity? An Asian Mediterranean? If so, a new brand name is needed pronto!
Laura:Having been on vacation in Thailand and seen that part of the world, I know first hand the tremendous opportunity for tourism. It is beautiful. There are so many wonderful places to visit. But you are right, the area has lacked a specific brand identity. There is no real term for the area. The Asian Mediterranean correctly describes what it has the potential to be, but they need a new word.
Alan: Here are some of the more obvious words:
'Indian Ocean' has two strikes against it: (1) The name favours India and (2) The ocean covers a much wider area including Africa and Australia.
'Bay of Bengal' also has two strikes against it. (1) It favours the former Indian state of Bengal now split into two - West Bengal and Bangladesh and (2) The area it covers doesn't stretch enough south.
'South Asia' and 'Southeast Asia' are ambiguous compass names that cover more than the affected coastal regions.
'Baydian' (Bay/Indian) and 'Bendian' (Bengal/Indian) are coined names but are not very elegant.
'Baycean' or 'Baysian' (Bay/Ocean) are also coined names but sound more like an Asian destination. Witness Malaysian. Unfortunately it also sounds like the capital of China: Beijing.
Laura:None of these is quite right. The real names are too country specific and the coined names sound too contrived. Alan: A new destination/tourism category in the making then? Let's call it 'Baysian Cruises'. Q: But can the new 'Baysian' brand become the next Mediterranean or Caribbean?
Laura:The area has great potential, but a new branding effort would have to wait at least six months until the Tsunami PR subsides. No one is going to want to book a trip to the area at the moment. Just like when an airline has a crash. They halt all advertising. Eventually people will come back, but they need time to forget and not have the images so fresh in their memory. I would love to hear if anyone can come up with a Mediterranean or Caribbean-like name for the area. Having a great brand name is always the first step of a successful strategy execution.
Alan: Calling all place pioneers in the blogosphere. Here's your chance to take up Laura's name challenge and create some history - or should I say geography! Here are a couple of starter ideas:
Search the historical and mythological websites relating to the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Happy Surfing!
Hunt down local fishermen, historians and storytellers and extract their pearls of wisdom. Happy Hunting!