Sunday, July 16, 2006

Brand Dubai and the Rest

'The heart means different things to different people and is symbolic of the courage and dynamism shown by our leaders in creating a trade and tourism destination unlike any other,' DTCM Director Operations and Marketing, Mr. Mohammed Khamis bin Hareb said, during the launch of a high profile marketing launch of the ‘Dubai Heart’ campaign in May 2005.

A destination like no other, for sure. The trouble is atleast half a dozen other destinations thinks so too, none more significant than Milton Glaser's I love NY, which celebrates the metropolitan pride of the city.

I must say the Dubai heart logo is appealing and clever in a way, but I am not convinced with the explanation that the red colored heart represents ‘courage’ and ‘dynamism’ of leaders in the region. Ask any person in Dubai, whether local or an expat whether they associate the image of the ‘red calligraphic heart’ with what Dubai stands for, I doubt any of them will answer on the affirmative.

Destination branding is no enviable task, as I found out during the past week when I went through hundreds of websites, brochures, articles and a couple of books. More so for a nation as varied as the United Arab Emirates, where identifying a unique characteristic which can generate a positive emotional response from a person is only a part of the task; but also involves addressing issues like the volatility of the middle-east and cultural sensibilities.

Nations has increasingly resorted to the “We have everything” or a “We are different” angle which did nothing more than to get fairly easy approvals from governments and other decision-making bodies. Among Uniquely Singapore, Incredible India, Enchanting Finland, Wonderful Greece, Magical Kenya, Dynamic Korea, Naturally Nepal, Uruguay Natural, Wow Philippines, which one will actually generate a positive human response from a citizen or a tourist is debatable. Others have resorted to their regional significance – Tanzania claiming to be ‘Authentic Africa’ while Rwanda urges you to ‘Discover a new African Dawn’(featuring a Gorilla naming ceremony!) and Zambia reckons you can ‘Experience the Real Africa’, Samoa is ‘The treasured island of the South Pacific’, Grenada is the ‘Spice of the Caribbean’ while Dominica is ‘The Nature Island of the Caribbean’, Malta is the ‘Heart of the Mediterranean’ while Croatia is ‘The Mediterranean as it once was’.

Still more get philosophical and poetic- Macedonia is the ‘Cradle of Culture, land of nature’, Maldives claims to be ‘The sunny side of life’, Nicaragua is ‘A country with heart’(Sorry Dubai), Cayman Islands is ‘Close to home, Far from expected’, Niue Islands is ‘Undiscovered Unspoiled Unbelievable’, Thailand offers you ‘Happiness on Earth’, Vietnam is ‘The Hidden Charm’ while Panama takes up the clichéd ‘The road less travelled’ tag.

Others can simply be mistaken with products like mineral water, television or even shoes - like Seychelles claiming to be ‘As pure as it gets’ (or sometimes a little less) while New Zealand is ‘100% Pure’, South Africa says ‘It is possible’, Hungary has a ‘Talent for entertaining’.

Only a few has managed to stand out and make an impact– either due to their long-term vision or with the help of a bit of creativity shown while making their identities, executing campaigns and ensuring some level of consistency. Malaysia's ‘Truly Asia’, despite its obvious simplicity has proved to be a winner. Alaksa, which has a predictable tagline, ‘Beyond your dreams, Within your reach’ came up with an excellent Alaska B4UDIE campaign to boost tourism revenue. Ethiopia’s questionable ‘13 months of sunshine’ may not have prompted a huge tourist influx, but is nevertheless unique, but has not been marketed well. Latvias ‘Land that Sings’ is delightful, Cyprus’ ‘The golden apple’ is intriguing, Ireland’s ‘Your own Ireland’ works well combined with its identity, Jamaica’s ‘One Love’ is representative of the nations fun-filled outlook.

Australia emerges the winner of the pack with excitement always present in its identity and campaigns that generate discussion, not to mention the popularity of the destination itself. Poland used a plumber and a nurse to inject some fresh lease of life into the tourism industry. Bahamas has a unique and contemporary logo, but it is doubtful whether it portrays a national identity as well as Spain’s does.

Britain, one of the first countries to take destination branding seriously did not create much excitement in terms of creativity. ‘Visit Britain’ promised to be as boring as the country was perceived to be, while the pretentious ‘UK OK’ was typically unimaginative. And in case if you were wondering who was behind Saudi Arabia’s innovative tourism strategy, you are welcome to the lovingly named ‘Supreme commission for Tourism’.


2 Comments:

Anonymous Naousheen said...

Hi Dear,
I would like to know of you are aware of any known brand identity and management company specializing in Newspapers and Media. Woudl appreciate any inputs on this.
Thanks.

Naousheen Faruki.
naousheen@yahoo.com

6:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mmm the logo is red and white , and dubai flag -before unity- was red and white so it matches.

4:01 am  

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