How to Do Destination Branding in China


According to Roger Pride, destination branding is to create value. The value is what a destination obtains through direct association with a brand, and the additional value is contributed by potential visitors to a place because of its appealing brand image. This is sometimes referred to as the “identity premium”.

Moreover, destination branding often involves the description of people’s experience about the place and relevant information such as the facilities, amenities, and other resources that the area can provide.

Difference between Destination Branding and Destination Marketing

Ideally, people in the destination behave in a way that reflects the destination’s brand values (friendly, unorthodox, creative, etc.), and particularly the destination’s “ambassadors” will convey such values: those with whom visitors come to contact frequently, from security guards to taxi drivers, shop assistants, guides, and staff in hotels and resorts. Running this ‘destination DNA’ through every communication helps reinforce the destination brand over time.

The brand is the basis to communicate a destination’s values. Destination branding is who you are, while destination marketing is how you communicate who you are.

Processes of Destination Branding

1. Branding strategy development

This represents the approaches used to develop the destination brand including the branding objectives, brand positioning, and segmented markets of the destination.

2. Brand identity development

This is the creative phase of destination branding. Here a creative strategy is formulated to decide a new logo, the color scheme, visual image (VI) guidelines, slogans (or strapline) and other elements.

3. Brand launch and introduction

The brand launch is when a new destination brand is revealed to the public for the first time. Usually this is done with some “galas and ceremonies” and is a major public relation event in the destination.

4. Brand implementation

Once the destination brand is launched and introduced, it’s better to appear in every communication and interactions with its tourists and potential tourists. Moreover, it means that what the brand has delivered must be practiced, so it is not just a vague concept that appears on the paper or in a video.

5. Brand monitoring and maintenance

It is very important that the performance of the brand is well monitored and maintained. Monitoring a brand implies to track the implementation of destination branding and to assess the progress it has made toward its final objectives.

6. Brand evaluation

To test the effectiveness of a destination brand is to check whether it has achieved its objectives. Here again, solid research is needed to judge if the destination branding has impacted the target market as expected.

Destination Branding in China

Sloganeering” is the common way to do the destination branding in China today where marketers try to come up with some impressive phrases for their destinations. The slogan and logo for Shandong Province are often regarded as the best example of destination branding in China. The logo is colorful, bright and lively; and the Friendly Shandong slogan is cheerful.

The destination’s unique selling propositions (USPs) are one of the most critical elements in the process of destination branding in China, as they could explain what is really unique about this destination that even make it stand out from other competitors. For example, when referring to the USPs in China, we could identify six USPs in Shaoxing: 1) Shaoxing yellow rice wine, 2) ancient canal city, 3) celebrities, 4) nature, 5) artistic impression, and 6) beauty and love.

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