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Managing destination brands: establishing a theoretical foundation
Graham Hankinson, London Metropolitan University Business School, UK*
Abstract There is general agreement in the literature that the marketing of
places as brands requires “a special type of marketing” (Ashworth 1993, p. 648). But while the problems inherent in place marketing are well documented (see for example Karavatzis and Ashworth 2005) very little attention has been given to the development of a theory of destination branding which can be used to guide destination brand managers and form the basis of future research. The conclusions from a review of the literature are tested against the experiences of practitioners (Churchill 1979) by means of 25 depth interviews with Senior Managers in 20 Destination Marketing Organisations. Five critical antecedents of successful destination branding are identified: stakeholder partnerships, brand leadership, departmental coordination, brand communications and brand culture. Two key mediating factors are also identified: brand reality and brand architecture. The managerial implications of these findings are discussed. Keywords Destination branding, Corporate branding, Services branding, Qualitative investigation, Theory development
The practice of branding places as destinations - places to visit - is now a wellestablished aspect of public administration. Since the 1970s, when managerial forms of governance by public administrators began to develop (Ashworth and Voogt 1994; Ward 1998), the application of marketing techniques formerly associated with the private sector has continued to expand as competition for a share of the growing
*Correspondence details and a biography for the author are located at the end of the article. JOURNAL OF MARKETING MANAGEMENT, 2009, Vol. 25, No. 1-2, pp. 97-115
ISSN0267-257X print /ISSN1472-1376 online © Westburn Publishers Ltd. doi: 10.1362/026725709X410052
Journal of Marketing Management, Volume 25
tourism market has intensified (Kotler et al. 1999). However, the transfer of private sector practice to what is predominantly a public sector-led activity has made this application problematic. The distinctive nature of the destination product has been well documented - for useful reviews see Ashworth and Voogt (1990); Hankinson (2001) and Warnaby et al. (2002). The place product is a unique combination of buildings, facilities and venues which represent production by a multiplicity of autonomous services businesses, both public and private. As a result of this complex product offer, a place has to be marketed through partnerships, both formal and informal, between the public and private sector organisations involved in the place product delivery (Warnaby et al. 2002). This multi-faceted product is consumed simultaneously by several market segments, each consumer assembling their own unique product from the services on offer. Place marketers therefore, have less control over the brand experience than marketers of mainstream brands. Despite these problems, there is very little to be found in the literature as regards appropriate managerial solutions. The existing marketing literature has so far focused predominantly on case studies of specific destination branding programmes (see for example Hall 1999; Crockett and Wood 1999) while the tourism literature has focused largely on the destination image (Hankinson 2004). As a result, a special theory of destination branding has remained missing. The development of such a theory would not only help the determination and evaluation of managerial practice but also provide the basis for future research. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to lay the foundations for establishing a theory of destination branding. Following Churchill (1979), the paper begins with a review of the literature. The paper continues by describing the findings from semi-structured interviews with senior managers in 20 UK Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) with strategic responsibility for destination brand development. The views of the senior managers are then compared and synthesised with the managerial issues emerging from the literature. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for a theory of destination brand management.
There is a widely held view that the marketing of places requires “a special type of marketing” (Ashworth 1993, p. 648) and that the branding of places as destinations requires more complex managerial activities than product brands (Karavatsis and Ashworth 2005). Therefore, the literature review focused particularly, although not exclusively, on other categories of branding which appeared to have closer similarity to destination brands such as corporate branding and services branding. Recent literature with regard to corporate brands in particular, suggests that they have several characteristics that align them with destination brands and that managing destination brands might therefore be much like managing corporate brands. (Hankinson 2006; Karavatzis 2004; Trueman et al. 2004; Rainisto 2003). Firstly there is a requirement to manage interactions with multiple stakeholders with potentially conflicting objectives (Knox and Bickerton 2003; Trueman et al. 2004). Secondly, both communicate with stakeholders through a variety of contact points (Hankinson 2001; Ind 1997). Thirdly, both play a strong over-arching role, adding value through endorsement across a variety of business activities (Keller 2000; Hankinson 2001). Fourthly, both are required to be the focal point for several consumer segments simultaneously
voluntary behaviour which enhances the performance of the brand. p. sportsmanship. therefore the starting point for building the brand must be an accurate assessment of the extant organisational culture. Balmer and Soenen 1999).manifests itself in the ways employees feel about the organisation and forms the environment in which brand values must be developed (de Chernatony and Segal-Horn 2001). Research by Burmann and Zeplin ( 2005) further suggests that this consists of seven dimensions: helping behaviour. corporate culture and brand image. the desired values may not be the values-in-use – the practiced values at work. The culture of an organisation – its values. and it was for this reason that literature from the services branding domain was also reviewed. only HR will be dealt with here. According to Burmann and Zeplin (2005). that recruitment and promotion is based upon a close fit between personal identity and brand identity. going beyond role expectations yet unrecognised by the reward system. Hatch and Schulz (2003) suggest that successful brands are those which establish a positive link between the desired values (as embodied in the brand vision). Developing brand commitment however. Brand culture It is frequently pointed out. (4) brand communications. self development and brand advancement. as (Schein 1992) points out. de Chernatony and Segal-Horn 2001. beliefs and basic assumptions . 1999). play a crucial role in bridging the gap between the envisioned brand values and those perceived by external stakeholders (Urde 1994. brand-centred HR activities ensure the provision of brand training for new employees and the incorporation of brand identity as part of executive development programmes. This commitment is seen as a key driver of what Burmann and Zeplin (2005) refer to as brand citizenship behaviour . brand consideration. (5) stakeholder partnerships. Brand-centred HR activities should ensure firstly. brand leadership and brand communications. building this commitment requires the integration of three sets of managerial activities: brand centred human resource (HR) activities. A further characteristic of the destination product is that it consists of a bundle of services (Hankinson 2004). brand endorsement. However. The job of management is then to bring corporate culture into line with the values embedded in the brand vision so that they become part of the customer’s image and experience of the brand. The objective of the literature review was to identify and categorise aspect of managerial practice which might be regarded as critical antecedents in the context of destination branding. brand enthusiasm. As the theoretical bases of brand leadership and brand communications are explained subsequently. Similar activities are also proposed by Simoes and Dibb (2001). This means recruiting and promoting employees with similar values to the brand’s ( Ind 1998. (3) departmental coordination. The successful development of employees’ commitment to the organisation’s brand is important because of its link to the development of appropriate brand behaviour. Secondly. is not an easy task. particularly in the context of corporate and services brands. that employees. It is this “concern with values that brings …branding practice into direct contact with organisational culture” (Hatch and Schulz 2003.individual. (2) brand leadership. The successful linking . through their interaction with customers. Five categories emerged: (1) brand culture. This must be followed by strategies designed to develop employees’ psychological commitment to the brand (Burmann and Zeplin 2005).Hankinson Managing destination brands 99 (Kotler et al. 1047). de Chernatony and Segal-Horn 2001).
investors. The need for leadership as a key aspect of brand management can be traced back to the ownerentrepreneurs who championed the development and promotion of consumer goods brands towards the end of the 1800s. Volume 25 of cultural change with brand commitment and brand behaviours is necessary if customers are to experience the brand in a way consistent with its brand values (Mitchell 2002). In this context. research into transformational leadership suggests that new leaders should be both charismatic and inspirational (Bass 1990. the need to communicate with a wider range of stakeholders . a growing awareness of the strategic importance of brands during the 1990s led to widespread recognition that the responsibility for the management of brands should move to more senior levels (George et.100 JMM Journal of Marketing Management. aligning vision with culture and image through organisational restructuring (Hatch and Schulz. This means giving a clear sense of vision . Urde 1999). corporate behaviour and corporate communications). In the context of corporate services brands. particularly in the context of the development of the internal brand (Ind 1997. This challenge to the traditional brand management model. (2001) suggest that organisations require pan-company coordination at a senior level in order to ensure a consistent execution of the brand by all members of the organisation. In particular. brand leadership is essential to the development of brand commitment (Burmann and Zeplin 2005). Vallaster and de Chernatony (2006) suggest that. (2) act as mediators between corporate branding structures and individuals. Brand communications Traditionally.what the organisation aspires to be in the future (Macrae and Uncles 1997). corporate design. . building the internal brand requires leadership to establish corporate structures which convey coherent and consistent brand messages to staff. Vallaster and de Chernatony 2006). this role moved down the hierarchy to brand managers who became the new brand champions with overall responsibility for the marketing mix (Low and Fullerton 1994). Recognition of the need for brand management to return to the highest levels in the organisation has been accompanied by a call for CEOs to once again take on the role of brand champion. brands have focused on external communication to an identified target consumer market. Burmann and Zeplin 2005). 1994. they postulate that successful leaders (1) act as integrators between the elements of corporate identity structures (corporate culture. More recently however. It has also been suggested that the arrival of a new CEO may be an opportune moment for internal rebranding (Mitchell 2002). Over time this role became diluted as brand management responsibility moved to less senior levels (Hankinson and Cowking 1997). al. and (3) facilitate employee brand commitment by acting as role models (Burmann and Zeplin 2005. has been particularly apparent in the corporate and services branding literatures. MacDonald et al. Burmann and Zeplin 2005). based as it was on consumer goods marketing. As these companies grew however. 2003) and fostering an organisation-wide commitment to the brand (Simoes and Dibb 2001). However. Brand leadership As was noted in the discussion on corporate culture. Knox and Bickerton (2003) for example. argue that the role of corporate brand management is too important to be delegated to a marketing department and that it should be the responsibility of a senior corporate brand management team. with the development of corporate branding.
compliance and corporate governance. disagreement in the literature about how best to communicate the brand internally. Evidence suggests also that consistency between brand communications and the brand statements underpinning the brand identity should be measured and monitored regularly and that it is helpful in this regard to distinguish between formal and informal communications. special interest groups and local communities – has been widely recognised (Hatch and Schulz 2003). Corporate branding as opposed to product branding. Whatever approach is taken however. is thus both multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary (Ind 1997). . However. to understand and internalise the values embodied in the brand identity is necessary if this is to be transmitted correctly to external stakeholders (Knox and Bickerton 2003). memorable messages. it is argued. Thus. handbooks and videos while others regard this approach as too long and difficult to internalise. rather than engaging in a lengthy consensus-building process. Understanding the brand identity requires a clear definition of what to communicate and a presentation which will appeal to all levels in the organisation. corporate brand communications are now directed internally as well as externally. corporate brands make contact with stakeholders through. The ability of all employees. Vallaster and de Chernatony. is widely acknowledged (for example. for example. Also. To this end. . However. answering the telephone and supporting services with user-friendly IT (cf. P 2004). This is particularly important if the communication is to act as a blueprint for employee behaviour. With the development of the concept of the internal brand. Aaker and Joachimstaler 2000). preferring short. formal brand communications are more amenable to analysis. the writing of brand identity statements should be driven by a group which includes the CEO. There is however. regulators. not just marketing departments. Examples from the practitioner world such as the role played by Richard Branson at Virgin support this view. Whilst the consistency of informal communications (for example. corporate branding interfaces with external stakeholders in a wider variety of contexts including social responsibility. The principal vehicles behind external communication continue to be corporate advertising and public relations activities (Greyser. Burmann and Zeplin (2005) suggest that employees should be involved in the generation of specific brand guidelines and targets. there is a also a danger that the link between the brand identity and the CEO can lead to strategic disorientation after a handover to a successor as happened at EasyJet after the departure of Stelios Haji-Ionnou. Aaker and Joachinstaler (2000) discuss the use of a variety of communication forms including talks.Hankinson Managing destination brands 101 suppliers and other business partners. Balmer and Urde 2006). The role of the CEO. the widening stakeholder audience has led to an associated widening in communication channels and contact points (Ind 1997. it must above all motivate employees. The overall aim of corporate brand communications across the broad array of stakeholders targeted is to build trust through consistency of execution (Goodman 2006). in addition to conventional external marketing communications. any founders who are still with the organisation and a few key employees. shareholder meetings and annual reports. distributor training events and manuals. 2006 Burmann and Zeplin 2005. Goodman 2006). Leoncini (2002) in contrast suggests that. Mitchell 2002. the internal verbalisation of the brand identity has to reflect accurately the full complexity of that brand identity (Burmann and Zeplin 2005). Hankinson. email and meetings) is difficult to monitor as a result of their quantity and variety. for example. Thus. in the process of branding internally and externally. Although effective external branding relies on rapid understanding effected through simple. to-the-point brand statements which are memorable and “capture the irrefutable essence or spirit of the brand positioning” (Keller 1999).
2005). a concept at the heart of the marketing discipline. 273). 1993. shareholders. In particular. in order to meet a mutual need. This is supported by Tilley (1999) who suggests the need for a fundamental review all marketing and non-marketing departmental procedures and processes. both for themselves and for their end-users (Kanter 1989). Volume 25 Departmental coordination The literature on departmental coordination is relatively limited in the context of branding. and their re-orientation in support of a brand’s core values. they may involve a group of interdependent organisations. development and protection of the brand. Gray et al. for example training. social and environmental value is at the heart of contemporary marketing (Zineldin 2004. need to “organise their processes around the creation. forming an alliance in order to create value. Stakeholder partnerships The importance of building strong relationships not only with customers. Jaworski et al. 117) defines as brand orientation. it is firmly rooted in marketing theory: the major share of this literature is associated with marketing orientation. Urde (1999) sees the concept of marketing orientation as problematic. Kohli and Jaworski (1990) include interdepartmental dynamics as one of three organisational antecedents of marketing orientation which they define as: “the organisationwide generation. Alternatively. This view is supported by several research studies (Naver and Slater 1990. In contrast branding he argues acts as an interaction between the organisation and its customers – looking both inward and outward. In their simplest form they may involve a group of organisations from the same industry forming a service alliance as a separate entity which they control. “many departments will say that their activities have a minimal or non-existent effect on the brand. finance and R&D departments can have a significant influence on the performance of a brand through the facilitation of brand funding and the creation of new products respectively (Macrae and Uncles 1997) This approach is necessary because. as Rubenstein (1996) reports. Most of the literature in this area has so far. but also with suppliers. In the context of branding however. Murphy et al. p. say from within a value chain. dissemination and responsiveness to market intelligence” (Kohli and Jaworski 1990:117). the community. externally on customers and competition. This fundamental assumption has manifest itself in the significant growth in cooperative partnerships both in and across the private and public sectors and has fuelled the extensive literature on corporate collaborations which has emerged over the last 20 years. Deng and Dart 1994. a management approach which Urde (1999. and even competitors in order to deliver long term economic.102 JMM Journal of Marketing Management. Nevertheless. focusing the organisation as it does. Knox and Bickerton (2003) similarly highlight the importance of ensuring that relevant business processes support the corporate brand through the delivery of customer value. Such partnerships cover a wide variety of practices and relationships (McQuaid 2002). development and protection of their brand identity”. been almost entirely focused on . p. 1998). when in fact their behaviour may be fundamental” (Rubinstein 1996. Firms therefore. Arguments such as these extend the concept of departmental dynamics beyond the need for departments to coordinate their responses to market intelligence to include the coordination of inter-departmental processes and behaviours around the creation. Organisations with insufficient resources to respond quickly to the changing market environment have been able to effect a swifter and more effective response through co-operative partnerships and alliances (Barwise and Robertson 1992).
Stakeholder partnerships are becoming multidimensional . the conclusions from the literature review were supplemented with an “experience survey” – a judgmental sample of people who can provide ideas and insights into the phenomenon under study. cooperation and commitment (Sherman 1992.CEOs. also require a formal framework which embraces clearly defined organisational arrangements and good communications (Kanter 1989.responsible for overall regional economic strategy. Huxham and Vangen 2000.responsible for tourism development. it is argued that single organisation-centred theory is inadequate (Kelly 1998). the compatibility of their respective brands and the relative strategies pursued by each member (Leitch and Richardson 2003). it was necessary to establish their coherence with the reality of destination brand management (Zaltman 1973). In order to access a high level of knowledge and experience of the problems of destination branding. Therefore. Zineldin 2004). THE RESEARCH ISSUES AND METHODOLOGY In order to confirm the relevance of the five antecedents identified in the literature review. In some organisations it was possible to interview more than one senior manager which resulted in a total sample of 25 managers from 20 DMOs. brand-owning organisations are increasingly managing their brands in partnership with other brand-owning organisations (Leitch and Richardson 2003). to participate in the study. Such compatibility is vital to the development of trust. Letters were sent to CEOs asking them. To achieve a wide variety of ideas and insights. non-competing organisations and their stakeholders. Marketing Directors and Directors of Tourism (Jankowicz 2000). Details by type of DMO are set out in Table 1. Such frameworks also need to be flexible over the long term: able to adapt to changes in management personnel. the judgemental sample was drawn from within the four different categories of DMO operating in the UK: National Governmental Agencies (NGAs) . Partnerships involving the sharing of resources.responsible for country level promotion. Tourist Boards (TBs) . levels of commitment and strategic drift (Kanter 1989. the use of a qualitative methodological approach was appropriate (Deshpande 1982). or an appropriate member of their senior management team. in line with Churchill (1979) and following similar studies (see for example Chernatony and Dall’Olmo Riley 1998). As the aim of this study was to contribute to the development of theory. their power. Zineldin 2004). Consequently.who work in partnership with RDAs and TBs. Zinedin 2004). including finance. Berg and Braun 1999.based upon relationships between compatible organisations in terms of their goal. it was decided to conduct field interviews with a sample of senior DMO managers . and Local Government Authorities (LGAs) . This was followed up by a telephone call to arrange an interview.Hankinson Managing destination brands 103 partnerships between single. Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) . However. TABLE 1 Details of DMOs interviewed Type of DMO Tourist Boards Local Government Authorities Regional Development Agencies National Tourism Agencies Total City 6 8 14 Regional 2 2 4 National Total 8 8 2 2 20 2 2 . knowledge and competencies.
Volume 25 In view of the nature of the research. TABLE 2 Critical antecedents: responses from senior managers Respondents mentioning 25 25 22 21 3 Frequency of mention 40 25 16 22 4 i. Interviewees were encouraged to say as much as they could in answer to each question. This analysis was carried out using the computer programme QSR N6. The table shows the number of respondents who mentioned these antecedents (indicative of response breadth) and the number of separate points made by each respondent in relation to each antecedent (indicative of response depth). they were therefore allowed to proceed without interruption from the interviewer except for the purposes of clarification and probing. New codes were added for areas of non-correspondence. From the findings. The topic guide used to steer the interview included the following areas for discussion: (1) the managerial and organisational factors critical to successful destination branding. content analysis was used to explore the data and develop a coding frame. This form of interview allows the interviewee to respond freely within their own frame of reference.104 JMM Journal of Marketing Management. and (3) the consequences of these factors not being present. THE FINDINGS Table 2 compares respondents’ views with the five categories of critical antecedents identified in the review of the literature. Critical antecedents Stakeholder partnerships Brand leadership Departmental coordination Stakeholder communications Brand culture ii. The resulting coding frame was used to compare respondents’ views with the critical antecedents emerging from the literature review. a semi-structured interview design was adopted (Miles and Huberman 1994). four of the five critical antecedents in the literature emerged as highly critical in the context of destination branding. The interviews lasted around one hour and were tape recorded before being transcribed (Krippendorf 1980). Additional themes Brand reality Brand architecture 25 19 27 34 . Following Jankowicz (2000). (2) the extent to which these factors were present in their own organisations.
motivate them. travel and transport. hotels and restaurant businesses. Regional TB) However. In contrast. In line with the recommendation by Leitch and Richardson (2003) for partners to be selected on the basis of their compatibility. retailers. (2000). Stakeholder organisations provided DMOs with funding. (2004) into the management of urban retail centres which found evidence of the inter-linking of marketing activities by managers in both the public and private sectors. Partnerships extended well beyond key public sector organisations: the LGAs. marketing and proﬁling. As many as 200 stakeholders could be linked to the marketing of a destination. It was also the most in-depth discussed factor. As one respondent commented: Our job is to bring together the public and private sector stakeholders in tourism …and to galvanise them. typically only around 20 of these were likely to be regarded as core partners having a strong influence on product development and brand quality. as one respondent put it: “I need to be able to pick up the phone and say we need to do something about …” (CEO. As one respondent commented: In order to make [the brand] work. it needs to be more embracing. one of the key issues for DMOs was the need to bring together senior management from stakeholder organisations to develop and agree a destination marketing plan. city TB). RDAs and TBs. many of these organisations were managing their own. A broadly based buy-in was seen as essential in order to establish a clear understanding of the essence of the brand and to agree a programme of activities which would add value across the wide spectrum of . it needs to be more democratic. the study found evidence of the importance of close informal relationships with senior managers in core partner organisations. bring in new resources and make a difference through raising the brand quality and product development. (Director of Marketing. Such consultation not only included large public and private sector organisations but also community groups as a means of understanding what the city had to offer as a brand. and in support of Knox et al. Consistent with Leitch and Richardson (2003). core partners usually contributing more than others. in order to really make sure that everybody’s singing from the right hymnbook. understanding and managing effective stakeholder partnerships was regarded as a critical factor by all 20 organisations in the study. often well known brands at the same time. Many contributions were based upon a one-year renewable subscription. the cultural sector. city TBs in particular were found to have engaged in a wide process of consultation in order to establish effective partnerships. there was little evidence of longterm formal frameworks within which these funding-based partnerships were organised. join up the thinking and resources. However. Stakeholders typically worked in common interest clusters such as the media. for example.Hankinson Managing destination brands 105 Stakeholders partnerships The study found strong support by DMOs for stakeholder partnerships. organisations like local airports could provide as much as 25% of city TB funding. City Marketing Partnership) As regards managing stakeholders. (Marketing Director. Selecting. These findings support the findings of a study by Warnaby et al.
there was less evidence of CEOs playing a strong role in building internal organisational commitment. In contrast to the development of corporate brands. Brand leadership Senior managers in all DMOs interviewed stressed the important role played by senior management in providing focus and ensuring that the strategy could be delivered. commitment to the destination brand in many DMOs was expected to cascade down the organisation rather than permeate across it. challenging and energising. city TB) However. (Marketing Director. strong-minded.106 JMM Journal of Marketing Management. it’s about the organisational structure. innovative. leaders in DMOs have no line authority over important areas of brand development and delivery which were seen as being controlled by external stakeholders. spoke of staff frustration that leadership was not able to function properly. (CEO. Knox and . things start to happen. Despite evidence that CEOs frequently acted as rolemodels in line with Burmann and Zeplin (2005). Several respondents however. Although DMOs recognised the need for departmental coordination in support of the brand. Demonstrating potential increases in business activity was particularly important in this regard and was often associated with subscription renewal and therefore short-term levels of commitment. regional TB). it’s not about individuals. CEOs were seen as leaders of change in an organisation: “providing the dynamic to make things happen” (Marketing Director. In support of the need for visionary leadership suggested by Macrae and Uncles (1997) and inline with the traditional role of brand managers (Low and Fullerton 1994). there was evidence that CEOs in these organisations took a lead role in organisational restructuring. A more active role was likely to be found in the larger city TBs. Volume 25 stakeholders involved. effective senior managers in DMOs were described as needing strong personalities and to be brand champions. They were required to be catalysts and able to form strong external relationships with other leaders in stakeholder organisations in order to build commitment: being able to pick up the phone and say to the senior decision-makers you need to know about or to do something …and then doors start opening. In support of Hatch and Schulz (2003). in particular. This finding contrasts with the conclusion by Simoes and Dibb (2001) and Balmer (2001) that the values and beliefs of corporate brands should be reflected in organisation-wide commitment led by the CEO and senior management. CEOs and senior management also had to have very strong influencing skills and commitment. RDA) Departmental coordination The absence of a strong internal leadership role within many DMOs was reflected in the relatively weak coordination between departments. As one respondent commented: It’s not about the characteristics of the chief executive. The potential for frustration reflected the complex organisational arrangements in which destination branding had to take place. Urde 1999. the depth of commitment to the alignment of business processes in many DMOs fell short of the importance attached to it in the literature (Rubinstein 1996.
and to some extent the consistency. Thus. I was in a separate department again from the people who run economic development and investment and the people who run cultural services. Part of the problem with regional branding is the need to find an overarching brand which can be agreed to by individual cities and sub-areas within the region. As regards internal brand communications. LGAs and RDAs found departmental coordination more difficult. several respondents spoke about the need for workshops. the functional breadth of the remit which these organisations have. In support of Ind (1997). the seafront and the conference centre. Consistent with Ind (1997). LGA) Communications targeted at funding organisations focused on partnership events targeted at both senior managers at a strategic level as well as events for operational managers. are all in one place. libraries and tourism etc. As one respondent said: We work in silos here and we need better communication. Tilley 1999).Hankinson Managing destination brands 107 Bickerton 2003. (Director of Tourism. LGA) Secondly. evidence suggested that this was . Service deliverers and funding organisations were identified as particularly high priority. In contrast. the arts. But now economic development. RDAs and regional TBs. Communications also focused on opinion formers . Regular team meetings and communications are difﬁcult with such a complex range of activities. training events and brand handbooks to develop commercial practices consistent with the brand values. This problem was clearly expressed by one respondent: When I joined I was in a separate department from people who run events. (Director of Tourism. Communications were largely face to face and activity-based. (Deputy CEO. both working together on the development of the brand. the problem probably also reflects the geographical breadth of the remit. DMOs were found to use a wide variety of communication interfaces to reach stakeholders. As one respondent put it: We need a toolkit which can be shared with stakeholders and will improve the effectiveness. museums. One of my roles is trying to join things up. culture. city TBs reported good communications between heads of departments and directors. of an individual business’s service and reinforce the brand strength. regional TB) This problem probably reflects firstly.organisations who could influence service and infrastructural development such as the LGA and property developers – through personal lobbying and working parties. Brand communications In line with the corporate branding literature. organisational stakeholders were seen as critical target groups for marketing communications (Hatch and Schulz 2003). The exceptions once again were the city TBs who were generally found to be more coordinated than LGAs. Destination branding seemed noticeably more complex at a regional level. At least one other study of place branding reports similar findings: Hankinson (2001) identified the absence of departmental coordination as a significant weakness particularly amongst smaller local government organisations.
leisure and special interest services it offered. Delivering this went beyond the creation and communication of place images which have been extensively discussed in the tourism and the urban planning literatures (for examples see Ward 1998. (Director of Tourism. establishing the internal brand (Ind 1997) may be more difficult in DMOs with multiple service responsibilities. Therefore. A large proportion of DMOs interviewed regarded the ability to deliver the brand experience or brand reality (Hankinson 2004. Belief in the critical role played by organisational culture was largely evidenced by the acknowledged support for the internal brand within city TBs. the study identified two other factors regarded as critical to successful destination branding: delivering the brand experience and brand architecture. LGA) Similarly. infrastructure and support services as well as the collection of retail.108 JMM Journal of Marketing Management. City TB) Brand culture Only a few respondents mentioned the importance of organisational culture as a determinant of successful destination branding. 115) through product development of critical importance. The need to establish an internal brand identity (Urde 2003) was expressed by one respondents as “…a need for everyone involved in the delivery of the brand to live the brand” (CEO. One respondent summarised this as follows: [branding] starts with preliminary communications and goes right through to experiencing the product and then memorising the experience and relaying it to friends. provide a wide range of public services in addition to the promotion of tourism. RDAs are responsible for economic development across a wide range of industries of which tourism is only one. city TB) and by another respondent as the need for … all staff to be custodians of the brand . p. Ashworth and Voogt 1990) and linked promotion to the brand experience and word of mouth communications. for example. Additional themes In addition to the five critical antecedents identified in the literature. (Marketing Director.informed by the brand and the brand values through workshops and the distribution of brand guidelines. regional TB) . This finding is consistent with (Hankinson 2001) who concluded that the organisational complexity which characterises the development of destination brands prevents the establishment of a unified organisational culture. Volume 25 largely confined to city TBs whose main remit was marketing. Delivering brand reality was identified with the quality of the destination’s buildings. This may be explained in part by the narrower focus which TBs have in contrast to other types of DMO. one respondent remarked: there is a dilemma because most of the senior ofﬁcers’ and indeed elected members’ time and effort is focused on fulﬁlling the multiple needs of residents who don’t see the positive attributes of tourism as much as they see the negative attributes. (Deputy CEO. LGAs. Thus. relatives and colleagues when they get back home and inﬂuences whether they come back again.
as a consequence. City TBs were able to work on a one-to-one basis with their LGA. there were differences between the degree to which each was implemented. Hankinson 2004) was widely recognised by respondents. and perhaps in consequence. although agreed to be desirable. establishing a brandoriented organisational culture and departmental coordination. which appeared more able to . however. Implementation was found to be strongest with regard to external branding activities such as the fostering of stakeholder partnerships and building strong communication platforms focusing on funding and service delivery. Brand architecture is a key branding issue but in the context of destination brands it becomes a political issue. p. DMOs are relatively small organisations with very limited financial resources. However.Hankinson Managing destination brands 109 The need to transform the negative organically formed images of some destinations through investment in product development (Gunn 1997. seemed difficult to achieve. CEOs therefore spent a lot of their time with external stakeholders. indicated broad agreement about the relevance and importance of all five categories. regional TB) One solution was to adopt an overarching brand for all activities – an umbrella brand or branded house strategy (Aaker and Joachimstaler 2000). its cities and its towns.“the number and nature of brands employed and the relationship between each brand” (Devlin 2003. it was clear from the study that many DMOs felt that the attack and slipstream brand strategy could result in brand dilution and confusion. The notable exceptions were the city TBs. regions had to work with several LGAs and were therefore less able to form such strong relationships. much of their activities are focused on securing stakeholder support to meet short term financial objectives. Another critical issue for many DMOs was how to design the brand architecture and avoid brand conflict. Analysis of the data from the field interviews. 1043) . DISCUSSION From the literature review there emerged five critical antecedents around which a theory of destination brand management might be based.was found to be a particularly relevant concept in the context of destination branding. Brand architecture . but particularly those from post-industrial cities. regional TB) In some cases DMOs used a city brand as the “attack brand” in order to build awareness of the region as the “slipstream” brand. in contrast. Another solution to the problem was to use the concept of “attack” and “slipstream” brands a marketing strategy which makes the region an attack brand to encourage people to come to the region and makes lesser known towns slipsteam brands to build awareness (Deputy CEO. In contrast. each protecting its interest in having its own brand. It was a particularly important issue for DMOs with regional responsibility where conflicts could emerge between the region. Effective internal leadership appeared to be constrained by the complex inter-organisational structures in which DMOs have to work. As one respondent put it: It’s probably more political than anything else…some areas still want to be very focused on their own branding so it’s a challenge (Marketing Director.
MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS This research has direct managerial implications. DMOs must also seek to establish long term partnerships rather than one-year. This is particularly apparent between brand culture. Regions also seemed to experience more political conflict than cities and. the study clearly identifies seven critical areas of activity in which DMOs must engage in order to develop effective destination brand strategies. This process must be led by CEOs and senior management. Seven critical activities The study provides specific guidance about the activities which must form the focus for destination brand strategy. they were more successful at building brand-oriented cultures and establishing internal branding processes. In contrast. firstly. city TBs seemed better placed to manage destination branding more effectively. This overlap will need to be clarified as part of construct formation and measurement. regional TBs had wider geographical responsibility and worked with several LGAs resulting in compromise and slower implementation. Investment in infrastructure and product improvement was therefore a shared objective between the two organisations. but broadly based groups of compatible. all three of which form part of the internal transformation potentially necessary to support the external brand. Two additional themes emerged from the field interviews: brand reality and brand architecture. Such variations in the working arrangements between DMOs suggest that institutional variations such as these need to be incorporated as intervening factors in any future model of destination brand management. the difficulties associated with branding across regions. CEOs in particular. as a consequence both regional TBs and RDAs were often required to develop a more complex brand architecture in order to accommodate the political objectives of the leading towns and cities in their designated region. Analysis of the field interviews indicated that there is overlap between some of the antecedents identified in the literature review. the study identifies situational factors which might impede the development and success of those strategies and suggests that different strategies may be required in different institutional environments. subscription-based agreements. Second. Overall. This conflict followed by compromise contrasts with the views of Leitch and Richardson (2003) that partner organisations should be selected on the basis of equal power and mutually shared objectives.110 JMM Journal of Marketing Management. needed only to work with one LGA. the difficulties associated with product development and the need to match the brand experience with the brand promise and secondly. These appeared to reflect two distinctive problem areas for DMO. The findings suggest that DMOs must seek to work with relatively small. the research provides DMOs with a framework in which to develop their destination brand strategies. consequently. First. must also work more effectively to build understanding and commitment to the destination brand . They were able to focus on one brand and. Overall. committed stakeholders within formal frameworks. although having to work with many external stakeholders. internal brand communications and departmental coodination. Volume 25 engineer organisational change and inter-departmental coordination.
branding strategies and managerial styles may need to be tailored to these different environments. However. CEOs also need to encourage similar understanding and commitment in partner organisations even though such activities are not within their managerial control. a view which was confirmed by the results of this study. The inﬂuence of institutional environments The study suggests that more focused destination brands. The five areas of similarity identified from the literature and . the extent to which it could be applied to other sectors has been questioned. Until recently. For example. To be successful. although marketing and other outward-facing departments typically will have a larger role to play. brand management theory has been based upon the consumer goods industries in the private sector. This means that it is imperative to build strong partnerships with organisations involved in investment in the destination’s physical environment – buildings and infrastructure. training events and other activity-based workshops can form the basis of internal destination brand development within both the DMO and its partner organisations. destination brands must go beyond the communication of an image and make the brand promise a reality. This process may involve changes in the management structure of the organisation in order to obtain the coordination and commitment between departments necessary to support the brand’s development. Therefore. other departments must not be seen to have secondary status (Kohli and Jaworski 1990). The need for this was predicated on the widely held view that destination marketing in general requires a special type of marketing. the balance between departments needs to be handled carefully.Hankinson Managing destination brands 111 across their own organisations. The use of “attack” and “slipstream” brands can provide a convenient communications platform for incorporating regional diversity provided it is based on sound branding principles and not political convenience. CONCLUSIONS AND LIMITATIONS The aim of this study was to lay the foundations for the further development of a theory of destination brand management. This appears to be largely a result of differing institutional environments. are more likely to be successful in comparison to more broadly based brands such as regions. these can be in both the private and public sectors. The application of such theory has been particularly problematic in the context of destination branding which is a predominantly a public sector activity associated with a very different type of product made up of a collection of public and private sector services. therefore. Also. destination brands which stretch across both urban and rural spaces. The starting point for this study was to set this problem in the context of the more recent developments in theory particularly associated with corporate and services branding. regional DMOs may require greater managerial flexibility and cooperation in order to build long term investment partnerships which ensure brand reality across the wide number of brand experience points for which they are responsible. such as cities. Brand communications have a key role to play in these activities: A toolkit of brand manuals. may require a more complex brand architecture. These areas in the literature are regarded as sharing some common characteristics with destination branding.
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