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Destination Branding

+ Posted by Peter Bowden

As as destination marketing organization (DMO), you should you care about branding. Everyone will Google your city before they visit. Any time you interact with people -- online or off -- your brand will matter.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to increase market share, you wrote a comprehensive marketing plan. In most circumstances, that plan would include traditional print and maybe radio and television advertisement. Branding wasn't on the radar for most DMOs.

Were the good old days, really all that good? Not really. The platforms and outlets available today are so much better. Today you can build your destinaton brand, then leverage it to expand to increase visitation, increase sales, and enhance your credibility, and ultimatly do what DMOs are tasked to do by telling the story of the destination and creating economid impact. The new media means engagement.

Today's internet and social media driven world, a destimation is missing out without a sophisticated "brand plan" that specifically conveys what it represents, the value it brings to its visitors and strategies about how to keep a conversation going, otherwise known as engagement.


  • Focuses an destination's brain-trust
  • Focudes on the resources and tactics in the direction needed to achieve its goals 
  • Unites marketing, sales and product development -- detailing what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful
  • Sets objectives that operations and finance need to support
  • Starts with a vision -- what does the brand represent or symbolize
  • Has a mission -- a specific plan-of-attack that helps launch the brand

How doest the DMO identify its goals? These are the things you want the brand to achieve, followed by strategies that provide a road map on how to get there. The plan should identify consumer targets and targeted demographics or visitors. To bring visitors to your destination, you must have a central message, explaing explains why your city is unique. The plan must have promotions targeting visitors to take action.

The bottom line is always the bottom line -- and branding is about emotions and how your visitors feel about your destination.

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The Author

Peter F. Bowden, TMP

President & CEO, Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau

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