Branding is a terribly misunderstood subject. One of the
worst misconceptions is that it requires such an enormous investment that only
large organizations should attempt it. The truth is that smaller organizations
need the benefits of branding and a solid brand strategy more than anyone.

As all who read this blog know, a brand is not a logo or
a tagline. A brand is the reputation that a company — or in the tourism industry,
a destination — enjoys in the marketplace. It's the way people feel and react
when they hear a name. The act of branding involves discovering what makes a
destination special and worth visiting. It requires assigning the destination a
personality, a voice and a recognizable identity. If it's done right, branding
will ensure that the personality, voice and identity are unique and
differentiated from competing destinations. The branding process brings clarity
and direction to all future advertising and marketing initiatives.

Who needs a clear strategy and differentiation more — a
smaller community or Chicago?

I don't think it's a question of whether the small to
mid-size communities can afford to tackle branding. I think they can't afford not


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