I'm on holiday and its raining cats-and-dogs. It means that instead of aimlessly lounging around a swimming pool and strolling along the beach, we're finding shelter in cafes and bars wherever we go. It changes perceptions of a holiday resort – somehow the precipitation and gloom heightens the critical senses.
The one I wish to share in this blog post is about the importance of 'brand' and how we so easily get it wrong.
A useful way to think of a brand is "all the things about an entity that add up to an experience." In other words, anything can contribute to the perceptions we create in our mind about something. Those perceptions will impact on how we view and treat that entity.
I'm currently on holiday in Paihia, Bay of Islands. It's one of New Zealand's foremost tourist destinations – today an overseas cruise ship will disgorge hundreds of visitors into the cafes and shops of this tiny resort. But as seems typical with New Zealand tourism destinations, it falls well short in delivering much to stimulate the senses or give an impression that New Zealanders give-a-toss about our visitors.
Of course the countryside and coastal areas are picturesque and there are the usual 'tourist' type excursions and fun things to do; fishing, bus tours, dolphin spotting and the like. But the simple and impression making aspects such as customer service and good town and building design are generally absent.
What possesses, for example, the minds of cafe, motel and resort owners when they unoriginally insist on calling their establishments, 'Outrigger' or 'Bayview' or 'Franks'? Having named their establishments with a moniker that's shared by a thousand other similar establishments, they then get a nephew or Bodget Bob, the sign writer, to whip up a logo and signage that will not inspire a philistine but will appal anyone else. The decor is finished off from No-Name-Building-Supplies and the house staff is hired from the grim outskirts of suburban New Zealand.
Any business or organisation expecting to prosper from the perceptions it creates among its important contacts should take heed. Good brand building is a basic foundation for everything. It requires originality, it needs to be well planned and consistent with the attributes, benefits and personality required, and it needs to be carefully and consistently applied.
Our tourism industry earns more overseas income than any other sector, yet where we deliver the brands of New Zealand where it matters; it just looks like we haven't got a clue, or worse, that we don't give a damn.
Fraser Carson is a thinker, problem solver, innovator and commentator. He has particular experience and interest in marketing, communications and social media. In 2012 he launched Flightdec.com, a radical new concept to build online communities.