Destination Branding Case Study: Rebranding Tillamook County, Oregon

Place branding expert and author Bill Baker presents this case study on region and destination branding of Tillamook County in Oregon, USA, and how a county-wide brand strategy was developed with a specific focus on tourism.

The case study provides information on defining a destination brand, the selection of a new destination name, the simultaneous development of a brand strategy and a tourism development strategy, and the introduction of a new regional destination on the Oregon Coast in the USA.

Destination branding example Tillamook County


This large county on the Oregon Coast has a population of 25,250. It has a scenic coastline of 104 km (65 miles) that includes vast unspoiled beaches, four bays, nine rivers and three National Wildlife Refuges, six County Parks and ten State Parks. Sprinkled throughout the county are nine small cities and villages that are visitor destinations in their own right.

In 2013, Tillamook County introduced a transient lodging tax (TLT) i.e. a hotel occupancy tax, which was initiated to facilitate countywide tourism marketing for the first time. The County government decided that simultaneously with the introduction of a new regional destination marketing organization (DMO) or the commencement of any tourism marketing it was necessary to establish a brand identity and a strong strategic foundation.

Total Destination Marketing (TDM) was engaged by the Economic Development Council of Tillamook County (EDC) to simultaneously develop a Tourism Development Strategy and Brand Strategy. The EDC coordinated public – public – nonprofit collaboration through a Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC) which was responsible for overseeing the project.

The two projects were completed within seven months on an accelerated schedule by TDM with the support of Tourism Development Solutions, Axia Creative and HPR Internet Marketing Agency.

The Challenge

The introduction of the TLT provided the resources for the county to be marketed as a unified destination for the first time. To date the County had not had a regional approach to tourism marketing, nor was there a regional tourism management organization (DMO). It would be necessary to transition from fragmentation and individual community focus to a countywide brand strategy. Additionally, because of the past marketing focus on individual communities, the Tillamook County name was not widely recognized as a tourism destination.

The Methodology

The TDM team used the place branding process based on the 7A Destination Branding System outlined in the book, Destination Branding for Small Cities. The 7A process follows a well-researched and consultative approach that generates community buy-in which is balanced with customer and competitor research.

A Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC) was convened to act as a sounding board throughout the brand journey. It met five times at critical milestones and this allowed participants to gain an understanding of the research, the strategic rationale and for TDM to harness their insights and fine-tune elements of the strategy.

Importantly, this approach empowered TAC members to become advocates and leaders during the later adoption and implementation phases and for them to become champions for the new brand.

Solution and Results

View or download the whole case study on Tillamook Coast destination branding (pdf) for details on the problem, key questions, the branding process, solutions and impact.

City destination branding expert Bill BakerAbout Bill Baker

Bill Baker is Chief Strategist for Total Destination Marketing and is internationally respected as an author, speaker and for his pioneer work in branding places of all sizes, from nations to small cities. He has more than 30 years destination branding and marketing experience in 25 countries.

He is the author of the best-selling book “Destination Branding for Small Cities” and is a contributor to several leading books on destination branding published in Europe.

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