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Ultimate Guide to Travel & Tourism Sector Branding

Ultimate Guide to Travel & Tourism Sector Branding

Tourism marketing is a crucial activity (and increasingly so) in the tourism sector. That is why tourism branding takes particular relevance as a differential and success factor.

Tourists are increasingly demanding, and tourism competition is fiercer. Tourism branding is positioned as an alternative capable of breaking down barriers and attracting, converting, and closing new tourists to destinations.

Marketers distinguish two types of branding in this domain: tourism sector branding and travel business branding. In this article, we will discuss both.

What is tourism sector branding?

Tourism sector branding is building a tourism brand, from conceptualising the brand and the strategic brand platform to the graphic and visual elements.

Branding in the tourism sector aims to design and associate a tourist destination with a brand that can be marketed and adapted to different formats. It serves as a symbol for disseminating and contextualising the destination's values.

Tourism sector brands (country or city brands) must exploit branding as a critical element in the differentiation and prestige of the destination.

Definition of tourism sector branding

Definition Of Tourism Sector Branding

Providing a more specific definition, it could be said that tourism sector branding is the intelligent, creative, and strategic management of the assets (tangible or intangible) that differentiate a destination’s identity. It aims to build a distinctive, relevant, sustainable tourism brand promise and experience over time.

Branding in tourism is, therefore, a strategic and creative approach that aims to create relationships with its stakeholders and increase consumer preference and loyalty.

It is a discipline that arose from seeking a unique and differential identity. It highlights the values of a city or country. It projects its resources and qualities to internal and external audiences, differentiating itself and showing values that make the tourist feel a unique life experience.

Importance of tourism sector branding

Branding in the tourism sector allows the fundamental virtues of a destination to be grouped and communicated, enhancing and increasing the reach of tourism assets.

Branding tourist destinations is essential for companies in the tourism sector, as it influences the benefits they can achieve.

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It also allows a tourist destination to be marketed and visualised through more channels, thus reaching more consumers.

El Salvador Logo Design

It is a job that should not start from the local or national businesses themselves but from a higher institutional body, acting as the branding approach that will protect the tourism assets of the city or country. This is why we also speak of city or country marketing. 

If tourists are not attracted to the place where the business or hotel is located, they may choose another destination. This is where branding in the tourism sector takes on greater importance, as it aims to increase awareness and penetration of tourism brands to improve consumers' attraction and loyalty.

Tourism sector branding strategy

Tourism sector branding develops connections between a destination and a tourist, strengthening the bonds of union and creating a discourse and an identity of its own.

One of the fundamental points to developing a branding approach adapted to the values of the destination is to know the strengths and differential points of the destination. It is necessary to create a strategy that communicates them effectively.

It must also express the values that make the destination unique—promoting the experiences and emotions that the tourist will receive so that the destination becomes the desired option for the consumer.

After all, tourists are no longer just looking to stay and visit a city. They want to be part of it. They want to live an intense and real tourist experience.

Branding In Tourism Sector

The tourism sector branding strategy should involve building an identity and a brand associated with a recognisable, versatile destination that facilitates purchasing.

The strategic approach should include the following points:

  • Define the brand platform of the destination.
  • Develop the consumer profile to be targeted by the strategy.
  • Communicate the fundamental values that will enable the recognition and differentiation of the tourism brand.
  • Determine the strategic communication channels and media.
  • Design the visual and graphic elements that make the brand tangible.

It is also necessary to strategically involve private, public, institutional, political or citizen entities to achieve the desired positioning. It is a long process that implies changing the conception of the city by the citizens themselves.

Tourism sector logo: the aspects to consider

When creating a brand, it is necessary to have an identifying logo that visually encapsulates the value of the experience promised by the area.

As for any other sector, the creation of a logo for tourism must take certain decisive aspects into account:

  • Positioning
  • Message
  • Colour
  • Font

Before even talking, you need to know who to target. The target audience is not just couples, families or older people. The area's characteristics or the offer of services and entertainment may appeal to lovers of nature, adventure trips, food and wine tours or cities of art. Activating a tourism marketing strategy means identifying the category of tourists to whom one's territory can offer an unforgettable experience and, secondly, intercepting them through creating a brand that communicates values and emotions.

Message

Relaxation? Carefreeness? Natural beauty? Traditions? Cosiness? Entertainment? What are the values, feelings, and memories a place provides visitors? What makes an experience in that area unique? A clear idea of what makes a destination distinctive and what kind of stay it ensures is fundamental to defining the message conveyed through the logo. The latest trend is, for example, the pairing of sustainable tourism and land branding, to which more and more users are paying attention.

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A logo does not necessarily have to depict the territory with its landscapes (indeed, the most popular examples of city branding do not represent it). However, it must lend itself to defining an incisive image that enhances its value and positioning over time.

Colour

Indeed, the prospect of a holiday must bring with it promises of fun, joy and serenity. Consequently, the colour palette to strive towards in the design of the logo is characterised by vibrant, cheerful hues. Most travel brands employ bright colours like yellow, red, green or blue. And these are not mere customs but studied communication strategies linked to the psychology of colours.

Fonts

An adventurous holiday or a relaxing experience requires different graphic configurations and, thus, the choice of distinct fonts. While the former focuses on fun and excitement, the latter relies more on feelings of tranquillity and gentleness. Consequently, a dynamic, entertainment-filled holiday requires more casual and fun fonts, while a rural escape prefers graceful and subtle fonts.

Examples of branding for the tourism sector

Here are presented different countries with different tourism sector branding.

Ukraine NowUltimate Guide To Travel &Amp; Tourism Sector Branding - Inkbot Design

Design is the cherry on the cake of the concept. However, branding does not equal design. Branding is a strategy. It is the strategy that Ukraine's travel & tourism sector, presented in May 2018, boasted. The project was commissioned by the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine, and the concept was developed by the international agency Banda for about a year. Also, 27 experts from the commission on the popularisation of Ukraine participated in the project.

Why did Ukraine need a travel brand?Ultimate Guide To Travel &Amp; Tourism Sector Branding - Inkbot Design

During the brand development, Banda Agency researched “How do foreigners perceive the country?”. It turned out that Ukraine is primarily associated with the words “corruption”, “revolution” and “hostilities”. According to the agency, this image was formed under the pressure of foreign mass media, and it had to be changed urgently.

The slogan “Ukraine Now” was invented to change the country's perception globally. The developers of the concept thought it as if to say: “We have just started to build our nation”.

The design and image of Ukraine were well received in Western countries, and the brand Ukraine Now received the prestigious design award Red Dot from the German Design Center.

Magnetic LatviaUltimate Guide To Travel &Amp; Tourism Sector Branding - Inkbot Design

For many years, Latvia has used the tourism slogan “Best enjoyed slowly” in its national branding. However, it negatively impacted the country: investors and tourists perceived Latvia as an insufficiently modern and slowly developing European country.

In 2017, the country started considering changing it to Magnetic Latvia. Employees of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) came up with the idea. The word combination Magnetic Latvia was so successful that they used it in other areas, including tourism.

“In my opinion, the result was simple and beautiful. Such a logo will evolve and fit into various fields,” explains Andris Ozols, director of LIAA.

Lithuania: Real is BeautifulUltimate Guide To Travel &Amp; Tourism Sector Branding - Inkbot Design

Nature, culture, food, sports and people are the criteria used to describe Lithuania in the official tourist commercial. This project was developed by the Lithuanian agency New! in November 2016. The national style was created for the Lithuanian State Department of Tourism and focused on the concept's slogan: “Real is Beautiful”.

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“It is not easy to get tourists to visit a little-known country in Northern Europe, so we had to create a brand image with a strong communicative impact. Lithuania is where natural and authentic things are of great value: food, nature, architecture, culture and hospitality…

These things may be imperfect, but we are still proud because we see beauty in authentic things. That's why our slogan contains a promise: if you want to escape from fake smiles, concrete jungles, and plastic architectures, Lithuania is the perfect choice,” said Tomas Ramanauskas, creative director of the Lithuanian advertising agency New!

Poland: Move Your ImaginationUltimate Guide To Travel &Amp; Tourism Sector Branding - Inkbot Design

The logo of the Polish tourism brand was designed by the Polish Tourism Organization (POT) in 2001. Its conceptual design consists of red stylised letters and symbols in the form of a green tree, a dark blue mountain top and waves, referring to the living Polish nature. To this day, the logo is used exclusively to promote Polish tourism in domestic and foreign markets. However, although Poland's national brand was developed in the early 20th century, London-based consultancy Brand Finance valued it at $650 billion in October 2018.

The brand's creators hope every trip to the country will make travellers turn on their wit and imagination while enjoying Polish sights and architecture. Hence, the slogan of the Polish travel brand is “Move your imagination”.

Georgia

Georgia Tourism Branding

The Georgian National Tourism Agency (GNTA) took the initiative to create a tourism brand for Georgia. In this way, it wanted to ensure sustainable tourism development and increase the recognition of Georgia as a unique tourist destination. The national branding was created in collaboration with the creative agency Topuria Design.

“Georgia is one of the most unique tourist destinations in the world. We aim to help tourists discover the country's potential, diversity and richness. They, in turn, after looking at our tourism brand and Georgian national flavour, should want to return to the country once again,” GNTA admitted.

Azerbaijan: Take Another LookUltimate Guide To Travel &Amp; Tourism Sector Branding - Inkbot Design

Azerbaijan unveiled a new identity for the country in the fall of 2018. When creating it, the Azerbaijan Tourism Board was inspired by the phrase: “Take another look”, motivating international tourists to immerse themselves in the unique stories and secrets of the country. The country's national image was developed by the creative agency Landor.

In this brand concept, the designers combined two forms and transformed them into a central symbol – the first letter of the country's name, “a”. The logo resembles a “lens”, which offers a new look at Azerbaijan. There were mixed reactions to the tourism brand. Many people accused the creators of plagiarising Mastercard.

ArmeniaUltimate Guide To Travel &Amp; Tourism Sector Branding - Inkbot Design

The story of Armenia's logo for $400,000 became one of the most discussed topics of the summer of 2016. Then, Vazgen Kalajyan, executive director of the American advertising agency GK Brand Tribe Globa, posted the process of working on Armenia's visual identity on his LinkedIn page. The concept caused a storm of indignation among the public: people felt that the brand “has nothing to do with Armenia and Armenians at all” and does not correspond to the country's culture, history and values.

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The “Eternal Sun” logo is an opening flower, which, according to the authors, symbolises the contribution of Armenians to the scientific, artistic and business spheres. “Like the sun's rays, the flower's petals diverge, recreating the shape of the symbol of Armenia's eternity. The flower petals are coloured in red, blue and orange, similar to the colours of the Armenian flag,” the designers wrote.

Uzbekistan: Naturally IrresistibleUltimate Guide To Travel &Amp; Tourism Sector Branding - Inkbot Design

Uzbekistan's Intellectual Property Agency approved Uzbekistan's tourism logo in 2014. The Uzbek National Tourism Company Uzbektourism designed it. The country's national slogan is “Naturally irresistible”.

The Uzbekistan logo contains the inscription “Uzbekistan” in a free font. As in the case of Poland, the mountains and domes on the logo are drawn only symbolically and convey culture, landmarks, and national colours. The colour scheme was chosen following the country's flag: blue, red, green.

What does branding for the travel business mean?

For a travel company, branding means creating, developing and disseminating a set of values to distinguish itself from the competition and position itself in the minds of consumers. It means communicating all aspects of a company or a specific product. 

Branding is a marketing technique, but it is not marketing!

For tour operators, using food tour booking platforms can enhance the customer experience by simplifying the booking process and providing seamless service management.

You communicate marketing to the market about your travel business, products, or services. On the other hand, branding is what your consumers say about you and your products.

Branding is not a short-term strategy but a medium- to long-term plan. Investing in branding allows you to reap the benefits of your efforts over time. A brand can evolve according to market demand or consumer needs, wants or desires.

Why should a travel agency do branding?

Some people say that small online travel agencies can do without branding. Nothing could be more wrong! This belief is partly dictated by the fact that the branding process needs to be managed, and travel agencies often cannot afford the cost of a brand manager. Many travel business owners associate branding with quality or customer satisfaction. This is partly true, but these are only the results of branding. Branding today is no longer a trend-driven choice but also a necessity to stand out in the online tourism market.

Therefore, to the question of whether a travel agency should do branding, the answer is yes, for the following reasons:

  • Distinguishes from competitors
  • Increases corporate value
  • It serves to create a perception in the tourist
  • Increases brand awareness in the tourism market
  • Generates consumer trust
  • Builds customer loyalty

Let's now discuss an example of successful branding.

Bookatrekking – example of a successful brandingUltimate Guide To Travel &Amp; Tourism Sector Branding - Inkbot Design

Bookatrekking stands as a stellar example of successful branding in adventure travel. With an extensive portfolio of hiking trips to over 60 destinations, the company has strategically crafted a detailed and effective branding strategy that consistently elevates its brand awareness.

One key element of Bookatrekking's successful branding is its ability to convey a strong and cohesive identity across various touchpoints. From its website and promotional materials to social media channels, the company maintains a consistent visual language, logo, and messaging that instantly resonates with its target audience. This uniformity creates a memorable and recognisable brand image.

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The company's commitment to customer experience and quality is also reflected in its branding. Positive reviews, testimonials, and captivating visuals from actual trekking experiences like Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike contribute to building trust and credibility. Bookatrekking effectively communicates its core values and commitment to providing exceptional adventure experiences, fostering a connection with its audience.

Furthermore, Bookatrekking's branding extends beyond the trips themselves. The company has invested in marketing campaigns, partnerships, and community engagement initiatives, reinforcing its presence in the adventure travel niche. This multifaceted approach ensures the brand remains top-of-mind for individuals seeking trekking adventures.

This team leverages social media platforms, content marketing, and online communities to engage with its audience. Using captivating visuals, compelling storytelling, and interactive content helps create a sense of community and encourages user-generated content, amplifying its reach and impact.

By maintaining a well-defined and consistent brand presence, Bookatrekking has positioned itself as a trusted and reputable choice for hiking enthusiasts. The company's ability to convey its unique selling propositions, coupled with a solid online presence, has contributed to the continuous growth of its brand awareness and success in the competitive adventure travel industry.

How do you create a branding strategy for online travel agencies?

When people talk about strategy or strategic actions, they always think of something overly complex that will take a lot of time and resources to define. Hence, they tend to avoid anything resembling a strategy. However, strategy is fundamental to determining the tactical actions that enable you to achieve specific marketing and corporate objectives.

If you have never created a branding strategy or want to understand how to make one from scratch, you must first know who you are addressing and your competitors.

Who is your brand for?

You must define every aspect of your target buyer and create a fictitious representation of your ideal customer. You must understand their problems, anxieties, fears, desires or needs, what makes them happy, and how you can help them. In short, it represents how you define everything about your consumer. It is good to remember that since it is a fictitious representation, you have to update it according to the actual characteristics of the buyer personas.

Answer the following questions:

  • Who do you want to sell to?
  • Who are your consumers?
  • What needs or requirements do they have?
  • Who are your buyer personas?

Great, move on.

Identify competitor brands

Who is fighting against you for a place in the minds of consumers? Knowing your opponents' brands is indispensable when defining a strategy. What do competitor brands position themselves for?

Answer the following questions:

  • High quality or low quality?
  • High cost or low cost?
  • High quality and low cost?
  • Low quality and low cost?
  • High quality and high cost?
  • High cost and low quality?

It is strategic to understand precisely where a competing brand is to implement a diversification strategy. For this purpose, you need to analyse who your current competitors are in the present and who they might be in the future and examine:

  • Brand purpose
  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Values
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Elements of equality
  • Elements of difference
  • Value proposition
  • Products Offered
  • Logo
  • Brand colours
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Great, move on.

Identify the foundation principles of the brand.

What are the principles that led to the creation and development of the brand? On what pillars does the brand rest? What are the core beliefs? Answer the following questions.

Brand purpose:

  • Why do you exist?

Brand vision:

  • How do you see the brand in the future?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • What future do you want to build?

Brand mission:

  • How can you realise your vision?
  • What are you currently doing?

Value of brand:

  • What are the principles and values that guide the company's activities?
  • What values do you intend to promote?

Great, move on.

Define brand essence

Brand essence serves to express who you are as an entity. To do branding in tourism, especially for online travel agencies, you must understand who you are and how you communicate this to the market. Remember that a brand is an intangible attribute that distinguishes you from others and helps create a perception of the potential customer. Therefore, you must understand who you are and how to talk about you.

Answer the following questions:

  • What adjectives would you use to define yourself if you were a brand?
  • What are your human characteristics? Make a list of 3-4 adjectives that describe your personality.
  • What brand do your potential customers want?
  • How do you want to be seen and perceived as a brand?
  • What elements would make a potential customer choose you and not your competitor?

Branding involves attracting people's attention, making them feel comfortable, conveying your personality, and communicating through your voice. Tone of voice is one of the branding elements that allows you to reinforce your communication messages and persuade the customer through emotion. It is also one of the most complex elements in its definition because a brand must be able to communicate to the customer in different ways depending on the situation.

For example, the tone of voice of a travel agency brand can be refined and elegant when it comes to conveying emotion but also confident when it comes to booking or purchasing a trip. An appropriate tone of voice can enhance a brand's memorability, depending on the context.

To define it, you always have to resort to an internal analysis:

  • How do you want people to feel when they interact with you?
  • What adjectives describe the brand?
  • How can you differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • How would you like to talk about the brand? In what language?

Great, move on.

Create the brand message.

How can you convey a message, communicate your value and differentiate yourself from the crowd? To do this, you need to identify an online travel agency's unique value proposition first and second a tagline that identifies you. These are the two brand communication elements when referring to your message. Your value proposition positions you in people's minds for something you do better than your competitors and also answers why a consumer should choose you.

The tagline or slogan is an element of a brand's visual identity and reinforces the brand identity. Creating slogans for tourism is essential if you want to emphasise your company's value and communicate it clearly and simply to your audience. Every self-respecting tourism and non-tourism brand should have a strong tagline that people readily understand. However, some companies in the tourism sector do not do this because they manage to communicate the strength of their brand simply and authentically.

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This is the case with Booking.com, which has no tagline in its brand because it does not need to communicate its values. Calling up the booking brand, what comes to mind? Probably:

  • Best price guarantee
  • Free cancellation
  • 24-hour assistance

In 2019, Booking.com created a promotional campaign to launch the brand in the US and adopted a simple but distinctive message, “Be a booker”, to stimulate people to get in touch with the brand.

Booking Branding

Define brand identity

A brand identity is the set of visual and stylistic elements that make a brand memorable and associated with a product or service. It represents the first point of contact between people and a company from a visual point of view. A brand identity is distinguished by its logo, tagline or slogan, font and colour palette.

Although it sounds easy, designing a brand's visual identity is complicated. Often, when starting a travel and tourism business, the mistake is to immediately create a graphic representation by building the brand. But to make it optimal, you must be aware of each of the previous steps. If you are unaware of why you exist, what you do for the market and your values, how can you represent them graphically?

Depending on your values and vision, you must also choose the colours that best represent you because even colours, on a psychological level, communicate certain aspects of a company. Nothing must be left to chance when developing a brand identity because each element has a communicative value for customers.

Conclusion

Travel & tourism sector branding takes time and resources. It is a process that begins with a profound understanding of the people it addresses. However, designing and developing a brand allows both country (destination) and travel businesses to differentiate from the competition, communicate values and culture, and increase prestige and authority.

FAQs

What role does branding play in the travel & tourism sector in 2024?

In 2024, branding is more crucial than ever in the travel & tourism sector as it is a powerful tool to differentiate destinations, create unique experiences, and build trust among travellers. Effective branding helps destinations and businesses stand out in a crowded market and influences consumer perceptions.

How can a destination establish a strong brand identity in the competitive travel & tourism landscape?

Establishing a solid brand identity involves comprehensively understanding the destination's unique selling points, cultural nuances, and target audience preferences. Successful branding requires a combination of digital marketing strategies, sustainability initiatives, and personalised experiences to create a memorable and positive image in the minds of travellers.

What impact does technology have on branding strategies for travel & tourism?

Technology is a game-changer in the Travel & Tourism sector's branding landscape. From virtual reality experiences to social media engagement, technology allows destinations and businesses to connect innovatively with their audience. Integrating AI for personalised recommendations, mobile apps, and seamless online experiences is crucial to effective branding in this tech-driven era.

How can sustainability be integrated into the branding of travel & tourism businesses?

Sustainability is a critical focus in 2024, and travellers increasingly value environmentally conscious practices. Brands in this sector can incorporate sustainability into their identity by adopting eco-friendly initiatives, promoting responsible tourism, and communicating their commitment to environmental stewardship. This approach attracts environmentally conscious travellers and aligns with global trends in responsible travel.

In the age of social media, how can travel & tourism businesses leverage platforms for effective branding in 2024?

Social media remains a powerful tool for branding in 2024. Travel & tourism businesses can leverage platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and X to showcase visually appealing content, engage with their audience, and create a community around their brand. User-generated content, influencer collaborations, and real-time updates are essential strategies to stay relevant and connect with the digital-savvy traveller.

Author Bio: Conrad is a professional blogger, content maker, and freelance writer. He has written many excellent and valuable posts on a variety of topics. Conrad loves outdoor activities. He believes the fresh air brings him inspiration for new ideas. You can reach him out through gu***************@gm***.com.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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