The Slovenia Times

The relay race of destination branding



In the modern age, more and more destinations are competing for tourists. Destination branding is an important part of winning that competition. It a strategic approach which states that creating an image for a city, country or destination is an ongoing, holistic, interactive and widescale process - something much more fundamental than a quick change of logo or the development of a slogan.

Slovenia has been very progressive when it comes to destination branding. It first built a concept back in 2007/08, when Pristop partner Andrej Drapal worked in conjunction with Maja Konečnik, professor at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Economics.

There are many important elements to consider when creating a successful destination branding concept. Arguably the most important is that it is a process, not an event. Positive "silver bullet events" such as Petra Majdič's heroic Olympic performance or the positive appearance of the Slovenian Football team in South Africa help build awareness of, and sympathy for, the destination of Slovenia. But brand building is a long-lasting process of consistent experiences in all "moments of truth" when the brand touches its consumer. That starts from looking for information on the web, to the entrance into a country/destination at airports or boarders to the hosts in a hotel or a restaurant; people you meet in the street and so on. Quite simply, every inhabitant of a destination and everybody acting on behalf of it is a "Brand Ambassador".

It is important to remember that a brand is the sum of all experiences consumers have with it. Many of those experiences are historic, from childhood or teenage times, others are very recent. They can be made directly or indirectly through recommendations or rumours. Take the example of Monaco as a destination brand. The arrival of Grace Kelly in the fifties, the glamour of marrying Hollywood with a Royal European family, has created a myth and the Grimaldi family is cultivating and nurturing this myth. It became the core essence of their brand and every step Monaco undertakes is building on this image, including marriages or large events such as its Formula 1 race. Nothing happens by accident. But Monaco is still "embedded" in the "Cote d'Azur" and in that sense as well is part of a larger destination brand.

Successful brands are often created by single people with a strong vision. Mr Hayek will always be considered as Mr Swatch and Steve Jobs "is" Apple. In larger corporations brand managers or chief marketing officers work to ensure the consistent appearance of the brand through all departments, products and services. Without such a guardian, brand management is almost impossible. And so when looking at destination branding we need to find a guardian.

We have certainly made a good start when it comes to promoting Slovenia as a brand. But we cannot forget this is a relay race, not a sprint, and there will always be further to go.


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