Only a select few tourism destinations have got it right when it comes to destination branding. In the wake of threats like terrorism and the changing perceptions and profile of the tourists, how a country or region positions itself has become a key strategic element in driving the tourism economy.
On the international level there has been success stories like Spain and Alaska, but for a country with so many diversified cultures and a illustrious history, I felt ‘Incredible India’ was a safe way out. There might be many aspects that are ‘incredible’ about the nation but when you use the exclamation mark and try and relate it to the sun, the bindi and what not, it seems to work for a short term “we are the best” trumpeting campaign rather than establish a brand image for the country.
O & M India (incidentally they have done pretty well at the Cannes Lions this year) may not have shown much foresight in evolving a strategy to provide an image to the country, but they did manage to get people talking about India, which is always a good starting point. Another vital aspect how these developments can help tourism heavily relies on how each of the states fare themselves as destination sub-brands. In the first of my four posts on the same subject, I am attempting to find out what each state is doing in terms of promoting their destination as a brand – or whether they are doing anything at all.
The Kohinoor of India (Not Durex, mind you)
When a state has landmarks like the million year old Borra caves, the famed Godavari, the Charminar and when you are one of the leading proponents of education, culture and cuisine in the country, you expect Andhra Pradesh to come up with a better representation of their state. So why do they have to brand themselves as an oversized jewel which has spent most of its time in a British museum or in the hands of greedy rulers only to bring them so much of misfortune, is beyond my comprehension.
No catchline, no branding
Arunachal Pradesh gets poetic describing itself as mystical, magical and mysterious. Not a bad way to distinguish itself, but in no way those qualities are reflected in the branding; which unfortunately is the title with the photoshop inner shadow effect.
The Land of Blue Hills
‘Assam’s history goes back to ancient times’ is not a perfect way to introduce your state. Using the Great One-Horned Rhinoceros in the logo is a fantastic idea, set aside the fact that you need a microscope and imagination to actually spot it in the logo. But why does the Assam Tourism Board says it is ‘The land of Blue Hills’? Maybe it has do something with the official website of Cachar (where the hills are supposedly located) being all blue and little else.
You will be surprised at their tourism potential though.
No catchline, no branding
To my disappointment I found that the Bihar Tourism Board their official logo is not Laloo; as yet. But when they Kerala Ayurvedic massage as one of its main attractions, you know something’s wrong.
Full of Surprises
Chattisgarh has done a reasonable job with their branding with the ‘i’ resembling the state itself and a tagline which says ‘full of surprises’. The flash animation that greets you on their homepage is a bit dodgy, but overall they have done quite well in terms of branding, for a start. Indeed surprising for a state which was formed as late as 2000 and yet has a unique online community dedicated to its people.
Go Goa- A perfect holiday destination
If there is one destination in India that can do without branding and some heavy duty marketing, it ought to be Goa. Goa believes in stating the obvious – but is not reassuring in terms of tourism infrastructure. It just might feel the heat of competition unless they do a rethink of its almost non-existent branding strategies.
Vibrant Gujarat – Where life is a celebration(especially inside trains and bakeries)
So if India is incredible, Gujarat should be vibrant, right? How about ‘Spectacular Ahmedabad’ or ‘Stunning Vadodara’ just to blend in with the league of adjectives. But to be fair to them, Gujarat Tourism Board has done a professional job with the branding and the positioning, though the Gujarat identity(where life is a celebration) looks a little amateurish.
The pioneer in highway tourism
The land where Hindu culture took birth and matured chooses itself to be positioned as ‘The pioneer in highway tourism’. May it would not have been such a bad idea, if had they cared to explain what ‘highway tourism’ actually means(which I had to dig out from another website) and how they can claim to be pioneers.
To be continued… all additional info/corrections in terms of regional tourism branding are welcome.