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January 29, 2008


Jim E

Rant on brother.

I guess I've naively thought that, with all the brand-oriented education that DMAI has thrust upon us over the past few years, that our folks realized the basic tenets of destination branding:

1. You can't create a brand - especially on a typical DMO budget. You can only reflect the brand you already have and attempt to resonate with your market's perceptions of your destination.

2. Leverage the brand that exists to extend the brand to include your unknown brand attributes.

3. You can't put lipstick on a pig. You can't ignore or change your negatives through marketing. You have to address it through product development.

4. You don't own the brand, the customer does.

(I'm sure there are a few more snippets that could be added, but KISS.)

Yet, the snake oil salesmen continue to profess otherwise.

Joe Buhler

Great comment Bill (and Jim E)
Guess we're part of the same choir!
Yes, there is a gap between the "self-image" existing in the destination by both the people living there and their institutions, DMO etc. and the "outside-image" the one you described and which is pretty much set. DMOs and others can only file around the edges. As expressed elsewhere, this is the ongoing conversation the marketer can only join but no longer control. Hopefully there is a conversation about your destination, otherwise you're toast anyway.

As for putting lipstick on a pig, Seth Godin uses the term being a "Meatball Sundae". If that's what you serve up your audience will puke....!

Now, if someone could poison the snake oil salesmen, we'd all be better off.

Reyn Bowman

It is easy to become skeptical if not cyncial and there are bits of "truth" in all three of these posts.

But lets not paint everyone with the same brush. There are some excellent consultants out there and a few very bad apples and a ton of "wanna-bes." But that's true of anything...including DMO folks.

Books like Bill Baker's are clear that you don't create brands, they are distilled from reality...where what internal stakeholders perceive intersects with what external audiences perceive the brand to be.

But even though it is frustrating, DMO's need to be encouraged to do it and do it right.

Mrs. Mecomber

Celebrities are such airheads.

Reminds me of what one famous average guy said, "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

Bill Geist

Reyn: You know that I place Bill Baker in a wholly different category. That said, my rants on this topic hope to open our peers' minds that they need to manage their brands smartly and effectively. Jim and Joe (and many more that we know) do...but I see so many other friends lured by the "quick fix" that often ends in destination (and career) heartbreak.

Mrs. Mecomber: Aye, they may be airheads...but the media holds them in high regard. Thus, we're often painted (in the consumer's mind) with a brush that isn't flattering.

Jim E

I hope my offhand comment didn't seem like I was trying to put all the companies in the category of Snakeoil Salesmen. I was referring to a few of the bad ones that really aren't doing their clients any favors. I agree - Bill Baker CERTAINLY one of them. And of course there are others that have earned respect and deserve consideration for any DMO looking for outside help.

Jim E

Geez. I can't type - too late in the evening. Bill Baker ISN'T one of them.

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