Thread: Branding Column is Sensible
06-06-2012, 06:25 AM #1
Branding Column is Sensible
by Don Bennett
OK, so what’s in a name?
A name can conjure up visions of excitement and joy. Of good times; the thrill of returning to a destination with fond memories, or thoughts of visiting a destination one hears others speak of fondly. This describes the name Destin. The mention of a name can also result in a lack of recognition with little or no effect. What makes the difference in our reaction? An obvious but important difference is if we have heard the name and with what frequency in both spoken and written forms. With a destination, a name is often referred to as a brand.
A brand can be created by usage over time. A brand can also be created by advertising. A brand created over time requires no cost to develop, however an attempt to develop a brand through advertising may or may not be successful regardless if large sums of money are spent in the effort. There is no guarantee. An unsuccessful advertising campaign would result in the name having little or no recognition. The name Destin is well known and respected and has no cost, whereas the name South Walton is not well known away from the local area.
The entire Okaloosa and Walton County coastal area has been known by residents, visitors, and property owners for many years as Destin. Spending large sums of tax money to build another brand will not change this. Why would we want to change this? The name Destin conjures up visions of excitement and joy.
I currently live in the Atlanta area. I lived in Fort Walton in 1960 so my memory of the area spans over 50 years. All that time I have heard the coastal area from the Marler Bridge to the Bay County line referred to as Destin. We currently own properties in both Okaloosa and Walton Counties including on 30A and spend a lot of time in these properties.
One thing I have learned by renting our properties is that visitors do like one particular area over another. For example when our properties in Okaloosa County are filled for the requested dates and I suggest a property on 30A, the guest is not interested. Likewise if our property on 30A is filled, they are not interested in a property in Miramar Beach or central Destin.
The “Find Your Perfect Beach” campaign by the South Walton TDC definitely has merit. Once tourists discover their “Perfect Beach” they can’t be moved. But the objective should be getting them there the first time. Rather than spending large sums of tax money to build a new brand name, money would be better spent promoting “ ‘Find Your Perfect Beach’ in South Walton, a part of the Greater Destin Area.”
The name Destin connotes good thoughts and good feelings. Why fight it when in reality there are no legitimate reasons not to take advantage of this already successful brand name.
Arguments in the article against an umbrella brand for the Greater Destin Area concern emergencies and the difficulty in visitors locating a property. Vacation rental properties are required to have telephone land lines. In the age of cell phones, land lines are not as frequently used, but are there in case of an emergency. When calling 911 the operator can instantly identify the location from the caller ID. As far as locating a property, visitors coming to the area want to know the physical address of the property they are renting so they can enter the address in their GPS device. A Greater Destin Area brand should not cause any problems with either of these situations.
Roger Brooks is a tourism expert with Destination Development Inc. and author of “The 25 Immutable Rules of Successful Tourism.” Mr. Brooks recommended the following to another tourism area and I believe the lessons so aptly fit our area.
“There are truisms in the tourism game that can fit anyplace anywhere.”
“Work together, not separately, and forget about boundaries.”
“Knock down the political, governmental and ego barriers.”
“Always market the broader package.”
“Visitors don’t stay within boundaries.”
“The more you have to offer, collectively, the further people will drive to visit you.”
The South Walton TDC commissioned a study several years ago because the reservations for the spring that year, as reported by rental management companies, were behind past years. In the study they called past guests who had not yet made a reservation that year. Those who said they were not coming back said the reason was because there was not enough to do.
The real problem was not that there was not enough to do. The problem was that they were unaware of all there is to do in the area. Okaloosa and Walton counties complement each other. If we effectively made all there is to do in both counties known there would never be a problem of not enough to do.
We need to stop regarding Okaloosa and Walton as each other’s competition. The Carolina Coastal areas and coastal areas in South Florida and on the Florida Atlantic coast are our competition. We just need people to visit our area once and they will return to their "Perfect Beach.”
Don Bennett is founder of Community Association Presidents of the Emerald Coast (CAPEC)
06-06-2012, 09:12 AM #2
When I lived full time in Seagrove Beach and people asked me where that was, I told them near Destin. They instantly knew where it was. And South Walton benefits from the name Destin without jealous politicians trying to separate South Walton from Destin. When there are conventions at Sandestin, they say 'Destin'. So IMO the $1 million plus that the TDC wasted on the logo change is almost a dumb as buying a Yacht. At least Okaloosa county can sell the yacht. We can't sell those stupid signs.
06-07-2012, 07:56 AM #3
ricky bobby, there are many here who would not agree with your assessment and certainly not use your description of tourists' location. I am one of those many. I do not agree with the over-the-top branding campaign as it was formulated but I definitely believe ALL should identify South Walton as South Walton and NOT Destin. In that regard, the fight between Okaloosa County and Walton County for tourism should come to a halt. We are both part of the Emerald Coast and have the most beautiful beaches in the world! Tout that fact instead of fighting about our brandings. Promote our South Walton beaches completely but don't knock the rest of the Emerald Coast.I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart
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