Regional Destination Branding : A Qualitative Study of the Branding Practices in Three Swedish Regions
Abstract: During the last decades, the tourism industry has become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. The growth has in turn led to traditional marketing techniques such as branding being applied to places and destinations. The concept of destination branding is concerned with creating an image which positively can influence consumer’s choice of destinations. Conditions surrounding organizations working with destination branding, so called destination marketing organizations is very complex. This highlights a need for effective management, leading to managerial activities such as stakeholder management, partnership creation and brand architecture being key factors in destination branding success. The purpose of this study is consequently to investigate the antecedents of successful destination marketing focusing on stakeholder management, partnerships and brand architecture. Based on a literature review, three research questions were created. A case study has been carried out in the form of semi-structured interviews with destination marketing organization from three Swedish regions. This study reveals that stakeholders are vital for the destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and their businesses. Therefore they have a clear understanding of which groups and individuals are stakeholders to their brand. The focus lies on the primary stakeholders and the DMOs are taking a motivating and caring role of the stakeholders, treating them with respect and appreciation. Collaborating within partnerships constitutes a large part of the daily work of the regional DMO's activities, and is often based on a need or possibility of creating an activity or product to improve the destination brand. Important factors to consider when creating partnerships have been identified, as well as ingredients for a successful partnership and what DMOs are expecting from their partnerships in terms of outcomes. Finally this study concludes that the regional destination marketing organizations are not fully applying any classic brand architecture strategies. Instead they are adopting a mix of umbrella brand and endorsed brand with selective communication of the brands in the region where they choose which brand should be communicated depending on which customer group is being targeted.
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