So you're thinking about working with a professional firm on a branding strategy for your community or perhaps re-branding because your current approach is old and stale. Congratulations. You may have just taken an important first step at this very moment while reading these words because if you have the slightest inclination that your destination needs help you're probably right.

We have found that some people are intimidated by the very term "branding." There are a lot of people talking and writing about the subject, some of whom over complicate things. I'm not saying it's easy to develop a powerful and unique brand strategy that perfectly nails the intricacies of your community. It's hard work that takes experience. What I am saying is that the concept of branding is actually an easy one to understand. The key is to deliver on the hard work part while never losing sight of the simple reason you're branding in the first place. Today, a cautionary look at three ways to ensure that the new brand strategy is a failure.

1. Don't differentiate

Finding that one thing that makes your community unique and special is the hardest part of destination branding — but it's the most important part. Many communities have arts, restaurants, historic sites and friendly people. Don't think that your community can have a boring brand strategy but you'll still be able to beat the competition by working harder.

2. Don't adhere to the brand's basics

Once you have a unique and compelling brand you should understand how to speak about it and represent it visually. A brand has a personality and an unwritten promise to visitors. Are you making social media posts and drafting press releases that reinforce those important details? Are you sending e-newsletters and making event flyers that use fonts and colors not authorized in your graphic standards? You do have graphic standards, right?

3. Revert to old habits

Once the branding is complete, delivering on it is still your responsibility. Your advertising should be a creative interpretation of the brand. Make sure it supports the brand. Don't just settle for the lame old "Visit [insert destination here] – a fun place to live, work and play." The mortal enemy of marketing progress is this sentence: "Because it's how we've always done it."


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