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When is the Right Time to Rebrand a City?

Texas 120 (2)A month ago, I received a phone call from the convention & visitors bureau of a city we worked for about ten years ago. The Executive Director called to ask about the appropriate time to consider rebranding or repositioning his destination.

My first response was to clarify the difference between rebranding and repositioning. Rebranding involves a process where an outdated or irrelevant brand identity is modified and re-launched with a new focus. In the context of places the term “refresh” might be more appropriate. It’s sort of like a facelift and for consumer goods may include a name change, new logo and colors, new website, updated packaging, point of sale material, a new advertising campaign.

On the other hand, repositioning involves efforts to turn the page on issues that may be necessary to completely change people’s attitudes and perceptions toward the place. It could mean major changes to the features, benefits and experiences presented or targeting new audiences, or both. Repositioning comes with considerable risks.

I conveyed to my CVB collage that when it comes to rebranding his destination, the most common conditions that may necessitate the move may include:

1. Customer behavior and needs have changed and the city’s products, communications, channels and relationships may need to be tweaked.

2. Major changes with the city’s experience and product offerings may require a different communications focus.

3. Perceptions of the city among target audiences may have declined to a point where it is necessary to present a more positive and realistic identity for the place.

4. Adjusting communications to accommodate major changes within the city such as new infrastructure, high profile events or new experiences.

5. Consideration as to whether new, formidable competitors have entered the market.

6. The visual identity including the logo and designs are starting to look dated and could use a refresh or a complete redesign.

If there is a difference in the reality between how the city is projected and the actual experiences and reality of the place, then it’s time for rebranding, or maybe even repositioning.

The decision to initiate a rebranding program should not to be taken lightly as it will have wide implications within the DMO, with its partners and will certainly have an impact on customers. The good news is we will soon initiate a brand audit to assess the city’s current situation and then, as needed, we will assist the city with adjustments to re-align the brand. 

Bill Baker

Bill BakerBill Baker

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