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Destination Brand Dictionary

by Bill Baker / Total Destination Management

Destination Branding Dictionary
Friday, June 25, 20101:15 PM Tags:no tagsCategories:
The following terms and definitions are provided by Bill Baker of Total Destination Marketing to assist your understanding of some of the basic terms and concepts that you may encounter in destination branding.


A brand is the source of a distinctive promise for customers from a product, service or place. Everything that a marketing organization does in collaboration with its partners and community should be oriented around delivering and constantly enhancing this promise.


Brand Architecture
This is the family tree or hierarchy of how various associated brand entities are named, organized and relate to each other.

Brand Assessment
An objective analysis of a brand’s strengths, image and perception.

Brand Associations
These associations (positive and negative) are what customers think of when they hear or see the destination’s brand name, tagline, or symbols. In the case of Las Vegas, these may include desert, hot, The Strip, neon signs, gambling, Wayne Newton, etc.

Brand Awareness
This relates to the degree to which the destination’s name is present in the minds of prospective customers. When people are exposed to the name of a destination they should immediately recognize it and form specific positive associations.

Brand Culture
Brand culture aligns the commitment and behavior of stakeholders and partners with the Destination Promise™ and enables the place to deliver its brand experiences. It involves getting all stakeholders “on the same page”.

Brand Equity
The accumulated loyalty, awareness, and financial value of the brand over time.

Brand Essence
The “heart and soul” or the DNA of the brand and relates to its fundamental nature. It should be short, crisp and rich in meaning, e.g. the brand essence of Las Vegas could be “adult freedom”.

Brand Identity
The brand identity comprises the unique set of visual, auditory, and other stimuli that project the brand through its many applications in order to shape market perceptions. These include the benefits, logo, fonts, tagline, colors, images, and in some cases the special brand smells and sounds.

Brand Image
The accumulated impressions or perceptions formed by the customers arising from their exposure to the brand. These may be positive, negative, or even neutral. For Las Vegas, this may be “a great place where you are free to do anything you want, whenever you want”.

Brand Loyalty
This is often considered the single most important outcome of a branding strategy. It may be best measured through repeat transactions, referrals, and the nature of the customer’s spending patterns. Importantly, brand loyalty also includes the staff, stakeholders, partners, media and others engaged in presenting, delivering and sustaining the brand experience.

Brand Management
The process of ensuring that the brand’s value and promises are maintained and consistently delivered.

Brand Partners
Those individuals and organizations that are instrumental in the promotion and delivery of the city’s promised brand experience.

Brand Personality
This describes the destination using human personality traits. Las Vegas traits may be fun loving, gregarious, flamboyant and indulgent.

Brand Platform
The brand platform provides the foundation on which the Destination Promise™ and all future brand experiences will be based. It includes the brand vision, values, benefits and personality.

Brand Portfolio
In the context of a community or destination, the portfolio refers to the related product categories including tourism, economic development, education, investment, and relocation activities that benefit from the reputation of the brand.

Brand Positioning
Brand positioning establishes what we want customers to think and feel about the destination. It relates to the position in consumer’s minds (and hearts) that we want to occupy.

Brand Values
The principles that the city and its constituents believe in and live by. They are the guiding principles by which residents want their community to grow and be shared with others.

Brand Vision
The brand vision clarifies the high-level role that the brand will play in assisting the city achieve its long-term vision and goals.

Community or City Messengers
These are the individuals and organizations whose communications are influential in shaping the external image of the community. They may include politicians, celebrities, marketers, media, travel organizations and local product.

Core Experiences
These are the encounters that are essential to sustaining your positioning and delivering your Destination Promise™.

Destination Promise™
The Destination Promise™ encapsulates the positioning, benefits and value proposition that distinguishes the place from competitors. It acts as a vision and roadmap to deliver superior value to customers and forms the driving force for all marketing and experience delivery efforts in order to establish competitive advantage.

A destination marketing organization and may also be referred to as a destination management organization. This term is intended to embrace Convention & Visitors Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, local government entities, downtown associations, Main Street associations, economic development authorities and other similar organizations that may be responsible for the marketing and management of a destination.

Overarching Brand
This is the brand that provides the umbrella embracing all aspects of the city. It may also be called the domain, “all of place” or umbrella brand.

Value Proposition
The benefits that provide the rationale for customers to select one brand over another.


Source: Destination Branding for Small Cities; Baker, Creative Leap Books