How Do Places Get Their Image?
“A City’s image can be considered to evolve in three sequential stages. The first is the organic image that is formed by our general awareness of the place through influences such as media coverage, books, movies, family and friends, and educational studies. This organic image is even more potent if the city has a long, interesting history, distinctive cultural fabric, outstanding natural wonders or is a major population, business or political center.
The second stage is formed by the marketing induced image which as its name infers, is mainly shaped by marketing communications, such as advertising, public relations, Websites, brochures and sales presentations. That is, it is built through promotional messages in addition to the organic image or basic awareness of the place.
The third stage is the experiential phase where the image is enhanced by the person’s first-hand encounters. Every community that attracts leisure or business travelers will experience this phase.
While some destinations may be able to skip the second stage, i.e. marketing communications, no city can avoid the third. To sustain a positive organic or marketing induced image, the place has to live up to its promises.”
Excerpt from Destination Branding for Small Cities: The Essentials for Successful Place Branding by Bill Baker
Branding is more than developing a logo or a website, although these can play an important part. It is cultivating, refining and enhancing the part of your community, town or region that makes is significant and unique. And, from the perspective of creating tourism traffic, it is also about highlighting those attractions, events and activities that are of interest to the traveling public.