DMOs in China Should Avoid Sloganeering & Logoneering


The significance of destination branding has been realized and accepted by almost all the DMOs in China for many years. However, unfortunately, “sloganeering” and “logoneering” rather than a professional destination branding process are adopted by many destination management organizations (DMOs) in Mainland China. It can’t be denied that Chinese DMOs are squandering millions of Yuan on meaningless slogans and logos. Tourism scholars have an obligation to advocate more professional and research-based approaches in destination branding in the future.


There are very few outstanding examples of destination branding performed by Mainland China’s DMOs. “Sloganeering” is broadly adopted in China today, as leaders try to come up with clever phrases for their destinations, yet without any research of markets and customer needs. Additionally, when it comes to “logoneering”, seemingly too much time is spent on designing logos without careful considerations as to how these graphic elements relate to destination branding and marketing. This is not the worst, because there is also the constant butchering of English language when Chinese slogans are translated into curious and awkward English. Moreover, few advertisers recognize that, due to cultural differences what works in Chinese does not certainly work in English and vice versa. The slogan and logo for Shandong Province are often set as the best example of destination branding in China. The logo is colorful, bright and lively; Friendly Shandong slogan is cheerful. There is no doubt that Shandong is far ahead of what many other Chinese DMOs are doing, but does it have all the features of a good destination branding and is there a professional branding research and development process when Shandong creates the slogan? We believe that the answers to both these questions are probably “no”. Friendly Shandong is not unique and “friendly” has been used by countless other destinations worldwide.  Notably the state tourism office in Kentucky, USA used to have the slogan. Additionally, how should tourists understand “Friendly Shandong” ? Maybe the province’s tourism bureau is trying to ensure that everyone in Shandong is friendly to tourists? Are there new training programs introduced to make people in the province more friendly and hospitable? The answer is probably not that convincing, as “Friendly Shandong” is purely a slogan and but not a true destination brand.


Then what are the characteristics of a good destination brand? Here are some guidelines for Chinese destination marketing organizations.

1. Attractive: a destination brand should be more than visually appealing, but it is still important that its visual elements are attractive and appealing to people in the target markets.

2. Communicate destination features and experiences tourists can get: an effective destination brand shall convey the experiences that tourists may have in the destination.

3. Consistent positioning: The destination brand must convey the good image that has been selected to promote the city.

4. Express the destination’s personality: The tone of the destination brand shall fit well with the characters of the place.

5. Supported by marketing activities: A good destination brand shall be supported by effective integrated marketing communications (IMC) campaigns.

6. Memorable: A good destination brand shall not be easily forgotten by the audience.

7. Simple: It is better to be simple and easy to understand as consumers may not be able to interpret what it means if it’s too complicated. Many of the truly successful destination brands in the past decades, including I Love New York and 100% Pure New Zealand, embody the essence of simplicity. In contrast, brands that fail to touch the audience usually include too many profound words, which are hard to interpret and understand.

8. Market-tested: A good destination brand is a brand that has been market-tested in a preliminary form with a representative group of people in the target markets. It should also has been given the “stamp of approval” by tourism sector stakeholders.

9. Include the slogan in the web’s domain name: People tend to have a look at the web url when they visit a web, therefore, it’s a good idea to include your slogan in the domain name to give it more presence. For example, Travel Alberta created a new consumer website in 2011 with a URL of that reflects its new destination branding program.

10. Unique: Being different is one of the keys to the success of destination branding. The Ireland destination brand is very unique not just in the shamrock-shaped logo. The uniqueness of the Tourism Ireland lies on how it blends four factors: physical experience of holidaymaking in Ireland, the personality for communications, the experiences, and the benefits that holidaymakers receive.

11. Well accepted by all stakeholders: The destination brand must gain a certain degree of acceptance from the stakeholders of the destination, especially the tourism sector stakeholders. If stakeholders are not in favor of the destination brand or are not particularly impressed by it, then you will have quite a long road to make the branding successful.

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