When it comes to destination marketing, first impressions are everything. As a result, a periodic DMO brand and communications evaluation can help ensure your website and marketing materials are fresh and relevant. Read time: 8 minutes
We have been referencing the findings from this study for over 10 years and so far have not found more comprehensive or compelling data—according to the Credibility Project, when considering websites for the tourism and travel industry, 50% of people judge your credibility solely on the visual appeal of your website. So, it’s a good idea to evaluate your brand and communications platforms (especially your website) every few years. This exercise may not reveal a need for change but, when it does, you can prepare your budget for the changes that need to be made (often over the next 2 budget years for a phased approach).
Your team works hard to market your destination’s offerings. Don’t let a stale presentation make a bad first impression!
In 2015, the Albany, GA Convention and Visitors Bureau commissioned Judy Randall of Randall Travel Marketing to perform a market research study. The research showed that visitors skewed a little older than those to typical destinations (48% Generation X and 32.8% Baby Boomer) and most often traveled without children (77.1% were adults only). It also identified that visitors most liked the friendly people and hometown feel of Albany, Georgia. Based on the opportunities revealed in this research, the Albany, GA CVB conducted a DMO brand evaluation in 2016 and tapped Stamp to refresh their logo, create new marketing materials with an updated look and redevelop a comprehensive website to step up their online appeal.
The Brand Promise
The Albany, GA CVB takes pride in the historical aspects of the city and region, as well as the outdoor activities and events. "Where history and nature flow” is their positioning statement and the research confirmed that it effectively conveys these offerings to visitors. Taking this positioning into account and digging even deeper into the research, we established that Albany, GA’s brand promise to visitors should be friendly, approachable and natural.
Stamp Destinations’ DMO brand refresh project for Albany, GA began with the logo. The previous logo had been in use for many years, but we wanted to update it slightly to have a friendlier feel and a design that would work in smaller applications. The client requested the update be in a script typeface, and they wanted to keep the turtle as an aspect of the logo. Knowing the target audience skews older, we chose a modern calligraphic font that is soft and friendly and paired it with a clean, soft serif font. Both updates make the logo more legible in smaller sizes. We also tweaked the turtle a bit and incorporated it into the logo as the crossbar of the “A” in Albany. Finally, we changed the font on the tagline to increase legibility, add emphasis to the key takeaways and to better compliment the new logo.
We continued the DMO brand refresh process with a redesign of the printed visitor guide (yes, we are still doing them, read this blog for ideas to maximize their impact!). We were able to work in larger photos on the cover to draw visual interest to the many attractions in Albany. To make it easier on the eyes, and because of the older target audience (thank you research!), we used a larger font size and lighter backgrounds for more contrast. Even with the larger text, more photo space was allotted to show off different locations.
The newly styled and easier to read map folds out of the guide so it can be larger and more accurate. We simplified the map to only include the main roads needed to get to the hotels and attractions featured on the printed piece. Overall, the brighter colors make the guide more inviting and exciting.
Albany, GA CVB Visitor’s Guide Map
Print advertising pieces were created based on the look of the new visitor’s guide. Templates were created for a range of sizes from quarter- to full-pages, and even odd sizes such as signage in Georgia rest areas. The template style allowed for photos to be easily swapped out and text content changed to target the specific audience of each publication.
By having these templates, it was less expensive to create future ads and Stamp could deploy these production expense savings towards the advertising campaign goal of increasing media impressions.
Our first order of business was investing time before the graphic design phase to reorganize the site’s content to aid visitor navigation once they reach the website. Then, like the visitor’s guide and print ads, friendly, approachable and nature-themed imagery was woven into the website redesign.
- Utilizing years of accumulated Google analytics (one of many great ways to leverage this data), we reorganized the homepage taking away a minimal slideshow and replacing it with large visual navigation to the most sought-after content.
- More emphasis was placed on the client-customizable events box, allowing more accessibility to maintain their website.
- We incorporated a “My Favorites” tool to allow frequent visitors to save attractions to their own personalized list.
- Business category listings were incorporated to allow a user to find a business based on their preference both in dining and attractions.
- We also incorporated a comprehensive calendar that will allow the client to input and sort events. The calendar also includes a portal for the community to submit events.
- The new design allowed for a mobile-friendly, responsive website.
- The overall feel of the website was lightened and brightened. We used a tan background and incorporated more blue and green colors from their new brand palette, refreshing the overall look and feel.
- The font choices were updated to convey a fun, modern style that is also more legible, especially when viewed on mobile devices.
- Each page was designed in a “segmented” manner, allowing the user to clearly distinguish what information went together.
- Business details were expanded upon, giving visitors more insight into each attraction, accommodation or dining option.
- The blog design was updated for ease of scanning and reading.
- A booking widget was incorporated in ways that were non-intrusive, but still on the forefront for quick access.
People do judge your destination based on your branding efforts. Your logo, communications materials and the layout, look, usability, and information provided on your website make a huge difference in conversions. Your team works hard to market your destination’s offerings. Don’t let a stale presentation make a bad first impression!