While everyone else is reflecting on 2017 or predicting trends for 2018, let’s take a moment and think about something more important. How healthy will your brand be in two years? What about five years?
Now is the time to think about it and steer the ship in the right direction.
- What’s that you say? Your community doesn’t really have a proper brand. It doesn’t have a message and strategy that has been researched and formalized that can guide your marketing and PR. That’s a problem you need to address quickly. The true definition of a brand is how people think or feel about a place or product. The process of branding means being proactive about helping people arrive at a truthful conclusion about a place. Without a proper brand and the message discipline that comes with it, you’re leaving it up to chance — hoping that potential visitors will have the correct ideas about your community. Is that comforting?
- Is your brand getting maximum benefit from its marketing? It’s a big and complex question. Here are the major factors to look at: a. Is the marketing creative? In the travel and tourism sector it has to be in order to inspire people to visit. b. Is your message and visual style consistent across all platforms — print, web, social media, video and outdoor? If not, fix this right away. It’s a fairly easy thing and it's the hallmark of a great brand. c. Are you reaching your target audience through the best and most effective media for your destination? Giant brands who advertise during the Super Bowl are paying to reach the zillions of viewers. That’s not the strategy for most travel destinations. Smart and targeted use of digital, print, out-of-home and social media are most likely the first tier choices. Broadcast, including TV and radio, may be beneficial for some. There is no standard answer because each destination is unique, which is why this question deserves close scrutiny, expert judgement and constant monitoring.
• Has your brand experienced message drift? This happens too frequently. If you’re driving along, the first time your GPS says “Recalculating” you don’t think much about it. If it starts beeping, shouting, cursing and frantically warning “make a U-Turn now” maybe you should pay attention. You’re off course. The same thing happens to brands, usually not for any good reason at all except carelessness. Unless you have solid data showing that the current strategy needs correcting, give it every chance to succeed. It takes longer to make an indelible mark in consumer’s minds than you might think.
Occasionally I’ll read an article about how brands don’t matter any more. Here at Mikula-Harris we could not possibly disagree more. Brands are more relevant than ever. In this era of social media consumers interact routinely with brands especially in the travel and tourism industry. If the public engages in conversation with brands regarding questions, complaints, compliments and special offers it’s logical to think that they listen to what the brand has to say in return. They have a relationship with brands. That’s why brands need every advantage to be recognized, strong and respected.