Canaan Bridges Consulting Inc. 3 min read
Our world is constantly changing. Likewise, consumer brand preferences and market choices evolve over time. While products and services are the most common examples of successful brands, geographic origin also has its place in brand positioning. Countries (and places within countries) can become dynamic brands in consumer markets. The connection is sometimes clear – as in the sale and distribution of specific well-known cheeses, wines, and coffees from certain countries. Overtime, the food product becomes synonymous with the country (as in Champagne and France, Quebec and poutine, Blue Mountain coffee and Jamaica, and Feta cheese and Greece). In other instances, the relationship is not so clear, yet there is an underlying synergy between origin and branding. A recent film you’ve watched depict scenes of a destination’s culture, aesthetics, and people. You now find that you’re searching for tropical themed vacation spots. Place, culture, and attributes unique to specific places are all commonalities in these examples. Within this dynamic, there is an opportunity to effect positive changes in tourism numbers through nation branding. Nation branding involves the use of a place’s natural and capital resources to create national identity brands that drive competitiveness in tourism markets. Solid synergies can be formed between local attractions, talent, culture, people and promoting tourist arrivals to destinations.
The pandemic has had a debilitating impact on tourism for several economies. Since the pandemic, tourist shortfalls have affected employment, cross-sectoral innovations, and the GDP of most tourism-intensive economies. As we enter the COVID-19 economic recovery phase, one of the sustainable development questions worth addressing is how best to create tourism futures that represent domestic realities, but also appeal to global visitors. There are subsets to nation branding – city, town, or even regional branding of places, done right, can contribute to long term economic growth and human welfare objectives.
How IP and innovation content can be integral to nation branding:
Boosting eco-tourism: Serbia’s Čigota is a registered geographical indication (GI) for medical and tourist services. The GI designation pertains to certain natural and human factors occurring in the Čigota mountain pass of the Zlatibor mountains which makes the characteristics and quality of the services offered unique to that region in Serbia. Here the elements of aesthetics, climatic conditions, and local culture help to create narratives that connect the mountain pass with proprietary rights (through GIs). This is brand positioning at work.
Tech Tourism: The globe is undergoing its fourth industrial revolution. Technology driven innovation is the most critical part of industrialization 4.0. There are certain places known for their unique and prolific take on technological output (Los Angeles, Bangalore, Seoul, Silicon Valley and Waterloo Ontario comes to mind). Without proprietary rights to safeguard and advance technological discoveries, innovative content would likely be less robust or fast-paced. Tech tourism relates to incentivizing tourists to visit a destination because of high and advanced levels of in demand and valued tech content produced in the territory. The synergies between proprietary content, innovation, technology and tourism are still relatively new but are sound ones.
Music tourism: Annual or big-ticket concerts and festivals that attract large numbers of audience are driven by the fame and popularity of artistes, performers and sometimes by the venue (destination) itself. Partnering with acclaimed local music artistes in holding annual music events (especially during tourist seasons) are effective initiatives in nation brand positioning. This is particularly useful if the musician has significant regional and/or regional following. Strategic considerations include terms of engagement with music and merchandising rights for the event, artistes image rights post event, and identifying other sectors and partners that can leverage local gains from the event. Visitors are driven to a destination by several factors. Planners can integrate diverse tourism initiatives packaged as two or three attractions which importantly, embodies strong proprietary content.
Sustainability is the key to results with any of these initiatives. A short-sighted approach is unlikely to result in long-term gains in branding where you live.
(First published in May 2022. Updated July 2023)