I recently had a conversation with the president of an East Coast DMO who was being pressured by some of his lodging partners because the community’s brand strategy, which had been revealed three months earlier, had not generated an increase in business for them. While we at TDM didn’t develop this strategy, it did seem to be a fairly robust document.
While there may be some short-term increases in visitation, the real benefits of branding won’t be apparent overnight. If this DMO wanted to increase heads in beds, perhaps they should have invested more in their tactical marketing and sales. Even then, it takes time to break through the clutter of competing messages, build awareness and convert interest into actual bookings.
We are living in an era in which some brands like Facebook and i-Phone can become household names overnight. On the other hand, others have soared and then crashed just as quickly. Do you remember World Football League, Webvan.com and eToys.com? Cities are different. Their identity and image have usually been established over a very long period, they almost always have small marketing budgets, need to overcome generations of preconceived thoughts and opinions, and must mobilize myriad stakeholders to adopt and use the brand accurately and consistently.
The benefits of city branding are considerable. This article provides more insights into why the benefits of city branding do not materialize overnight. From the outset, you must be sure that the objectives are clear and realistic, programs are well funded and that there is an understanding of what branding is and isn’t. This includes ensuring that no one expects a magic wand. And when the brand strategy is finally launched, that’s when the hard work really begins.