Development Counsellors International (DCI)

Since 1960, DCI’s expertise in place branding and marketing — through the dual engines of tourism and economic development — has worked to bring visitors and business investment, create jobs, and elevate the lives of the people living and working in destinations around the globe.

Based in: United States & Canada. Headquartered in New York City, with regional hubs in Denver, Los Angeles and Toronto, Canada

Which topics are you most passionate about at DCI?

As the leader in marketing places for 60 years, DCI is a highly specialized firm with dual expertise in economic development and tourism marketing. Talent attraction marketing lives at the intersection of those two areas of expertise. Our team of creative placemakers designs impactful branding campaigns that attract more visitors, business and talent to destinations.

DCI is passionate about our calling to leverage tourism and economic development as forces for good—to create living-wage jobs and improve the quality of life for local residents.

Who is leading the business?

Karyl Leigh Barnes

President, Tourism Practice

Karyl Leigh is the President of DCI’s Tourism Practice. Since joining DCI in 1998 from a destination marketing organization, she has led destination strategy and campaign implementation for destinations on every continent except Antarctica. She has been a featured speaker at IACC, IMEX America, IMEX Frankfurt, NATJA, SATW, TMAC and numerous tourism conferences.

Karyl Leigh holds a master’s degree in global marketing communications from Emerson College/Brussels, is professionally accredited in marketing communications by the International Advertising Association and has completed her CDME with Destinations International.

Full Bio | LinkedIn

Dariel Y. Curren

Executive Vice President, Global Branding Expert

With more than 25 years of experience in place marketing, Dariel has worked for Development Counsellors International since 1995. Her insight has helped destinations from the Netherlands to New Zealand, and Montreal to Miami, elevate their brands to attract visitors, foreign direct investment and talent. She serves as DCI’s global branding expert.

Dariel has been a featured speaker for the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and numerous economic development organizations and tourism associations, teaches the IEDC Marketing and Attraction Course and has been published in the IEDC Journal. She holds a degree in English and American literature from Brown University.

Full Bio | LinkedIn

Five hashtags which best describe your work

#destinationmarketing #economicdevelopmentmarketing #placebranding #passionforplaces #creativeplacemakers

Which services do you offer?

DCI offers a highly integrated suite of services to place brand managers, including:

  • Research: All good place branding must be rooted in research. DCI conducts perception studies, focus groups and on-the-ground research to understand target audiences, destination differentiators and the authentic essence of a place.
  • Branding: After determining brand pillars and target audience personas as the foundation, DCI develops the destination brand promise and key messages before moving into logo and brand concepts and campaigns.
  • Public Relations: The power of positive press is undeniable in building brand awareness and driving action. DCI is an expert in penetrating the most influential media outlets and digital platforms.
  • Websites: A destination’s digital storefront, websites built by DCI are often the first and more compelling expression of a place brand.
  • Social Media and Content Marketing: From harnessing social media platforms ranging from Instagram to TikTok to digital influencers to other impactful content marketing strategies, DCI approaches place branding holistically.
  • Paid Media: DCI believes hyper-targeted digital advertising is a smart way to extend and elevate destination brands, not to mention measure meaningful actions such as bookings, meeting requests and more.
  • B2B Marketing: Our business events team specializes in marketing and selling destinations and convention venues to North American-based planners of association, corporate meetings and incentive programs, while our travel trade team has strong relationships with wholesalers, tour operators, travel agents and airlines. DCI’s lead generation service helps generate foreign direct investment for our clients.

Who have you recently worked with?

DCI has worked for more than 500 destinations around the world to build their place brands. Recent client engagements include:

  • Armenia
  • Invest in Holland (Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency)
  • Visit Tunisia Project
  • Mississippi
  • Redding, California
  • Texas
  • Northern Virginia

Insights or advice you’d like to share

Here are three pieces of advice to places embarking on branding initiatives:

  • Get stakeholders involved from the get-go: Whether through focus groups, brand workshops or surveys, gaining insights from a broad swath of stakeholders early in the process is critical to success. Don’t forget that residents are important too, and the more diverse your inputs the better!
  • Focus on brand concepts first: Make your brand task force zero in on one or two brand concepts using words only before doing any design work at all. This forces people to focus on the all-important messaging first rather than get distracted by fonts, colors or iconography.
  • Remember that a logo is not a brand: Keep reminding your stakeholders that a logo is NOT a brand and that a fully articulated plan on how to activate your brand is critical to gain acceptance, traction and ultimate success.

For more info and to connect, visit DCI Website | LinkedIn | Twitter: @aboutdci

You’d like us to personally introduce you to DCI? Get in touch!