Mega Destinations! Place Branding for U.S., Europe & S.Africa

It seems essential-maybe now more than ever- for places, no matter their size to differentiate themselves from others and send the message that they are valued options not only as far as tourism concerned, but for people, investments, business and their economy in general. It is also important to remember that brand development is not just the creation of a logo, but a general destination-wide commitment to a long term focused strategy based on what distinguishes the destination and the brand identity, and a constant community-wide effort to effectively develop and communicate these unique products and experiences for consumers.

U.S.A Unveils First-Ever Unified Consumer Brand and Identity

The organization responsible for marketing the United States to world visitors just unveiled “Brand USA” America’s first-ever global consumer brand. Formerly known as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, but now doing business as Brand USA Inc., the group introduced its global brand positioning and strategy before an international audience of travel professionals and destinations in London.  The creation of America’s new global brand is the first critical step in the development of the nation’s first unified marketing effort. Brand USA Inc. will launch their first official advertising and marketing campaign in the spring of 2012 to invite world guests to visit America for leisure, business and scholarly purposes.

Although initially incorporated as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, the organization will now be doing business as Brand USA Inc. in an effort to more clearly align brand strategy and corporate messaging. “The United States offers a range of destinations and experiences that are unparalleled in the world market,” said Chief Executive Officer, Jim Evans.  “Now, through the creation of Brand USA, we are inviting the world’s travelers to come to visit us, and experience the limitless possibilities for themselves.”

According to Brand USA, the logo was created to be “fresh, welcoming and inclusive.” It aspires to remind the world that “the United States of Awesome Possibilities welcomes everyone.” It features a collection of dots joining together to compose the letters USA. The dots will serve as a vessel through which Brand USA can showcase diverse colors and images of people and destinations across America, emphasizing the boundless possibilities of the United States. It will not adhere to a single color scheme. The logo also displays the Brand USA’s official consumer web site.

“What is so compelling about the United States is that no one thing can explain who we are as a nation.  Each visitor and each experience helps create the fabric of American culture, and Brand USA embodies this spirit,” said Perkins.  “When we launch our global marketing and advertising campaign next year, we will be able to reach audiences around the world by showcasing the best of America and spreading the message that we welcome visitors with open arms.”

The United States first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing program was created by the Travel Promotion Act, federal legislation passed in March 2010.  A public-private partnership between the travel industry and the U.S. government, the Corporation for Travel Promotion – now Brand USA Inc. – was charged with increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts to drive job creation and economic growth.  The organization is led by private industry with oversight from the Department of Commerce and U.S. Congress. The program is funded through a combination of private sector investment and funds collected by the Department of Homeland Security from international visitors who visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.  No U.S. taxpayer dollars are used to fund the program.

“Brand USA has arrived, and it is not just a tourism brand,” said Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman of Brand USA and Chairman and CEO of Diamond Resorts International. “It is a 21st-century global brand that will help reposition our great nation in the market for travel—and drive economic activity, including billions in new spending, tens of thousands of new outsource-proof jobs and much-needed tax revenue, to spur powerful growth throughout all corners of the United States.”


Three Cities Alliance by Cape Town, Johannesburg & Durban

Cape Town TourismJohannesburg Tourism and Durban Tourism have joined forces on the Three Cities Alliance marketing initiative after combined insights from 2010 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ reinforced the message that urban tourism and city brands are high on the agenda of most modern-day travellers.

The three organisations agree that cities are the leading brands for countries. Cities are globally recognised as the prism through which countries are viewed and are described as a country’s most durable assets. Cities have history, heritage that has stood the test of time and promising developmental futures.

Historically, messaging and marketing for South Africa has focussed on the country’s natural assets and scenic beauty, with less emphasis on South African city offerings as urban destinations. In today’s competitive world, and based on global travel trend insights, it is evident that scenic beauty and natural assets alone will not captivate and keep travellers returning to South Africa. The Three Cities Alliance hopes to see South Africa portrayed in a more holistic light, offering urban diversity of experience in combination with extraordinary beauty and natural assets.

The backbone of the joint marketing agreement consists of product and destination packaging, collaboration on events and trade shows as well as shared collateral and online campaigns. It will see collaboration on marketing and branding initiatives and knowledge exchange at an executive level.

In association with South African Tourism, an international marketing campaign is underway to attract a larger percentage of the urban tourism market. Negotiations with Discovery Channel and National Geographic have been concluded and a series of programmes have been agreed upon that will showcase the livability of the cities. In terms of domestic marketing, the three cities will collaborate to leverage local events and align our events calendars where possible, promoting each other’s events and short city break packages.

Lindiwe Kwele, CEO of Johannesburg Tourism said: “All three cities have the confidence to define themselves in the minds of our markets. Johannesburg is a frontier city and personifies urban chic, achievement and a sophisticated energy. Durban is diverse; a leading port city that exemplifies warmth and tradition. Cape Town is a city of inspiration, hope and freedom with a rich cosmopolitan culture set against the backdrop of unprecedented natural beauty.”

Phillip Sithole of eThekwini Municipality’s Business Support, Markets and Durban Tourism added: “One of the secrets of a winning destination is for cities to realize that we are brands; that we should harness our assets. Positive perception, unique identities, authentic experiences and a powerful story is the armoury of a successful city brand.  The joint marketing agreement is a formal recognition of our synergies and will go a long way to present a conducive and integrated city tourism experience for both domestic and international travellers.”

CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, concludes; “Cape Town Tourism and its partners are committed to working with Johannesburg, Durban and SA Tourism to showcase our energetic, dynamic cities – not perfect in any way – but cities in evolution that can be counted amongst the world’s cities of the future. In so doing, we believe South Africa and its urban centres can attract a much more substantial segment of the world’s urban travellers. Our three cities tell three very different and unique but compelling stories. I strongly believe that we add value to each other’s leisure and business tourism offering and I think that this will also go a long way towards providing the prospective international traveller with a seamless impression of destination South Africa. The time has come for us to use creative and innovative ways to maximise the domestic and international leisure as well as business tourism potential, for all three cities.”

Follow Your Roots: Visit Europe just announced the launch of their latest social media campaign and contest entitled, “Follow Your Roots: Visit Europe.” Hosted on’s official Facebook page, the contest invites fans to explore their European roots by sharing a family photo and description of the photo.

“Large populations of European descendants are found on nearly every continent,” says Jan Rudomina, Chairman of the European Travel Commission US Operations Group. “Our goal with this contest is to encourage our fans to explore their European heritage through photos and letters in an effort to inspire travel to Europe.”

Beginning today, fans of the Facebook page can upload their family photo and brief description (200 words or less) describing the person(s) in the photo and the significance of following his or her roots back to Europe for a chance to win a dream European vacation for two.

“Follow Your Roots: Visit Europe” is the third social media contests taking place on the European Travel Commission’s social networks over the course of the past year as part of a new digital and creative campaign to promote Europe as a tourism destination to the U.S. traveler.

Established in 1948 to promote Europe as a tourism destination, the European Travel Commission provides travelers with inspirational commentary on travel services and attractions to help vacationers plan their European journey. Today, , the ETC’s web portal along with its dynamic social networks offers travelers activities, tools and tips to help consumers organize their journey to Europe and encourages travelers to share their own experiences and read others while accessing photos, videos and social networks.