This email is from Akshar at a regional tourism office in India, “I have seen the term ‘brand equity’ used in regard to consumer brands, but can this term also relate to destinations and other places?”
Akshar, just as brand equity has relevance to consumer products, it’s also important to destinations and places. Another term for ‘brand equity’ is ‘brand value’. Over time, successful places add to their value by generating positive awareness, respect and loyalty through the ways they present themselves. It’s not hard to find places that are much better known and have more positive reputations than others. These could be considered to be places that have strong brand equity.
I like to think of brand equity as like owning a bank account in the minds of target audiences. We could refer to good news, enticing images, and positive experiences as deposits in the bank. But bad news, poor marketing, and sub-standard experiences are like withdrawals from the account. To be strong and resilient, a brand must have sufficient equity on deposit to counter negative occurrences. And bad weather, a natural disaster, scandals or bad experiences do happen, even to good places.
The bottom line is that the real power of a place brand is in the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories that exist in the minds of its consumers. While building brand equity takes time, it is fundamental to destination branding.