I had the great pleasure of speaking to a breakout session at the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association Spring Meeting yesterday on the subject of Branding for Tourism. It was a lot of fun to present to such a lively group. I encouraged the participants to turn the session into a dialogue instead of a lecture by asking questions and sharing their thoughts all throughout the session instead of waiting until the end. It turned out exactly as I’d hoped with lots of thought-provoking discussion.
One important point that I included in my prepared presentation drew a few laughs and groans. I knew it would get a reaction and it’s why I worded it as I did. I offered this key insight on branding: “It never ends.”
The audience groans were light-hearted, of course, because everyone in the room was involved in marketing or executive leadership of a DMO, attraction, or some other business. But it’s a serious point that I hope was clearly understood. Even though one may lead their community or organization through a branding process, following through on the details, remaining true to the brand strategy and always delivering the brand promise are actions that never end. Once a brand is well established it’s more important than ever to be vigilant about the consistency of the message and image being portrayed through advertising and PR so as to not diminish the power of the brand that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. That’s what I mean by “It never ends” not that you can’t get some sleep at night and take a vacation once in a while. You’ve earned it.