In this interview with Mike Fabricius Managing Director of The Journey Tourism Advisors based in South Africa, we delve into the depths of what place branding and destination marketing really mean. We further discuss examples from his work on place brands and his involvement with destinations in Africa and across the world.
- Why sector-specific brand strategies are often better to gain competitive advantage, rather than generalized brands for cities or nations;
- Which approach the UN World Tourism Association recommends for measuring ROI of destination branding;
- The intertwined relationship between place branding and destination marketing;
- Different approaches to place brand management;
- Different types of partnerships for place marketing and branding.
Mike, what do you understand as the ‘brand’ of places, and which aspect of destination branding is the most important in your consulting work?
Place branding has many similarities with product branding. The general definition that the brand communicates a ‘promise of the rational and emotional benefits customers can expect’ also holds true for place branding. The difference is that in place branding, delivery of the brand ‘promise’ is constantly affected by the behaviour and actions of a multitude of stakeholders. Those range from the highest levels of politicians, civilian leaders and business people to the person in the street who walks among and interacts with visitors.
A key difference between branding products and places is that in product branding the value chain is far more controlled and the brand promise can be delivered more consistently.
Consider for example a shoe brand promising ‘comfort for aching and tired feet’ to a destination brand promising ‘an escape to nature’. In the case of the shoe brand, the various quality control and compensation processes rest with company management and employees. Manufacturing, distribution and retailing processes are quality controlled throughout and customers who find the shoes uncomfortable can return their purchases or at least have them replaced.