Why does every destination need branding? Because sometimes we just aren’t very good when it comes to introducing ourselves to others.
When you think about it, branding is a lot like dating. When you meet someone for the very first time your goal is to make a good impression. You want the other person to like you and be impressed so you can get that second date. In marketing terms, you are trying to move from interest to conversion with that person.
And while you want to make a good first impression, sometimes it’s hard when you can’t find the right words that say, “Hey, I’m worth dating.” Destinations can suffer from a similar dating mentality when it comes to introducing themselves to potential visitors. Sometimes we don’t lead with what makes us unique; instead we talk about the things that make us just like everybody else.
Destination branding is about leading with what makes you distinctive and different. In Lafourche Parish, Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, our research showed that our community had a strong sense of who it was, but we weren’t doing a very good job of translating that to visitors. We weren’t allowing visitors to see our true “sense of place.” Branding allows destinations to come out of their shells and provides a microphone to say, “Here’s why you should be visiting our community.”
As a small destination, we’ve seen other positives through branding. The process has helped us look at who we’re targeting through our marketing. We’re focusing on visitors who fit what Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou has to offer rather than trying to be a destination with something for everyone. Going after visitors who aren’t going to appreciate what your destination can offer is like being on date and saying you like romantic comedies just because the other person does, when really you love horror movies.
One final dating-to-branding comparison: When you’re dating, you aren’t a fit for everyone you meet and that’s okay. But you’ll never get noticed if you hide who you really are. People hate that … and so do visitors. You have to lead with your best self so people walk away with a true impression of you. Branding is the same principle. It’s all about helping communities tell their stories in a way that captures someone’s attention to becomes compelled to get to know you better, just like dating.