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Critically Evaluate the Merits and Limitations of the Destination Marketing Topic Called Place Branding

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Critically evaluate the merits and limitations of the destination marketing topic called Place Branding.

Place branding is quite a similar concept to the branding of corporations and their products and/or services. This was the observation which Anholt used to discuss the concept of place branding. He used the example of a country’s image being like that of a corporation; for them to flourish they needed to develop their branding techniques to accomplish their branding goals. Essentially branding can be the key determinant in influencing the “the behaviours and attitudes” (Anholt, ) of the target markets; irrespective of how they all vary.

A place brand encompasses the identity and image which must be successfully portrayed internally and externally to visitors. Place branding is the branding of a destination; this incorporates national, regional, state and city branding. It is in direct correlation to developing brand equity; which is essentially constructed from loyalty, awareness, perceived quality, and brand associations (Govers & Go, 2009). This is accomplished to assist in the process of achieving a coherent product offering, such as; tourism, trade, temporary employment, and investment opportunities (Govers & Go, 2009). If this is done successfully, it contributes successfully to consumer decision making and it aids in creating the enriching experience that target consumers are searching for.

Branding within a country can range from nation branding, regional branding, destination branding and city branding. All of them may essentially have their own objectives but the main goal for all their branding objectives would be the same; to create a positive brand image for the nation. This is as ultimately nations would partake in branding as a means of attracting an inflow of investment and revenue to build their economy. This is crucial for both, developed and developing countries, as they need to maintain their economy.

An essential point to consider is that not only does place branding target at captivating tourists but it also captivates investment, skills set and trade (Kotler and Gertner, 2002; Kotler et al., 1993). Thus, the target market is much more than just tourists; it also encompasses expatriates, business travellers and investors, as they are often seeking to attain the same benefits of visiting or living in a place. Transport and hospitality, such as attractions, are some generic offerings that caters to the wide range in the target market. Although they are all pursuing varying benefits from a place; they are still coherently linked as strengthening the place branding can strengthen the benefits that attract them initially. For example, investors are looking “for government policy and economic potential” (Govers & Go, 2009), which is favourable to them. Whereas expatriates are seeking excellent standards of living, (i.e.: infrastructure, safety, health care, educational systems, and housing) as well as job opportunities. If a place were to be branded correctly, it would be inclusive of all these values, as the perceived brand image would need to be reflecting these strengths. The vital essence of place branding is to attract consumers, may those be tourists, investors, business travellers or expatriates. Ultimately, attracting any or all consumer segments will help places achieve their branding objectives. Place branding Is much more than just developing a strong destination; it is about portraying a highly sought after lifestyle to consumers.

attracting investors, skills set and trade

*German car industry; inviting skills set and investors  

Attracting investors, skills set such as expatriates and trade requires many of the same place branding techniques as it would to acquire tourists. This is as a strong brand image is often the result of a strong economy; certainty for return of investments, exposure to a new market, job opportunities and strong trading powers. For example, many companies would seek to make an investment in stable economies such as that of the UK. UK is a global business hub in Europe, making it more attractive to investors, expatriates, and trade; it would open doors to a whole new market. However, in recent light, many investors and expatriates have had to question their choice to invest in the UK

With the rise in competitiveness across the globe for holiday destinations; countries need to have a competitive advantage over their competitors, which can be established by their place branding techniques. The essence of this deriving from the fact that consumers are more often to be too lazy to research new places to visit; A strong brand image can pose as a trigger in the consumer buying decision. Thus, urging countries to ensure their place brand image is strong enough to attract consumers to their location as opposed to their competitors. To create their competitive advantage, initially countries would need to acknowledge their competitors and what their strengths and weaknesses are. This would allow nations to identify branding techniques that work, don’t necessarily work and what their competitor is lacking to supply that to consumers to differentiate themselves. In this aspect, the countries would evaluate their resources and their offerings which might attract consumers in the first place, and then find creative ways to strengthen them over that of their competition. There are four strategies for establishing the market value of a corporation; cost leadership, differentiation, Focus and Blue Ocean strategies. Although these strategies were created in relation to corporations; it does not necessarily mean it cannot help places to modify and apply these strategies to create their market value and their competitive identity. For example, if a country were to have a unique attraction; such as Iceland with it’s Northern Lights. As the Northern Lights are a rare sight to be seen, often seen the clearest in Reykjavik, it allows Iceland to apply a Blue Ocean strategy to their place brand strategies as they can attract consumers and strengthen their brand identity with this rare natural sight.

The prime opportunity for countries to change their brand image lies largely in tourism. As the entire experience of tourists in a place begins from the moment they consider it as their holiday destination, till they arrive at the airport, reach their hotel, and are greeted by the hotel staff, till they are exposed to the locals and the activities offered up until they have left and ultimately evaluated their overall experience in the place. Based off this experience tourists would depict their brand image; as either negative, neutral, or positive. The reason tourism is of the essence for the successful branding of a place; is because tourists should become place brand advocates as opposed to being place brand critics. Word of Mouth is what place brands would be seeking as it helps build their image for little cost, in increased efficiency and effectivity. If tourists were to be satisfied with their visit; they would recommend it to their friends, family and sometimes even the world, with the use of social media. Snapchat is an innovation for WOM as it allows consumers to use Geo-Filters to upload snapchats to their family, friends and occasionally the world, if there is a focus on that location. This is unique and effective way of allowing consumers to be the advocates of your location as they use geo-filters, identifying to viewers the location. Considering the trends of the current social media popular techniques for the average consumers, they would like to showcase where they are and what they are doing; ultimately creating place brand awareness for the viewers.



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