September 03, 2013

Destination Branding: A Look at National and Regional Brands


Today, we’re concluding a multi-week look at destination branding. So far, we’ve looked at city, state and country branding. This post will round out our series by focusing on national and regional brands. Since we’ve been covering destinations where we have offices, today’s focus will be on the U.S., Europe and Asia (and the Asia Pacific region).


First, a quick recap on the impact of tourism: Last year, more than one billion tourists travelled the world and five to six billion more were expected to have travelled within their own countries. With stats like that, a successful tourism brand could mean millions (or even billions) of dollars for a destination.


United States

America’s destination brand is run by the Corporation for Travel Promotion (formed in 2010), which does business as Brand USA. Brand USA was established by the Travel Promotion Act to spearhead the nation’s first global marketing effort to promote the U.S. as a premier travel destination and to communicate entry/exit policies and procedures to worldwide travelers.


Personally, I was surprised to learn the U.S.’s official travel/tourism entity was so young; I assumed it had been around much longer than just three years. That said, a lot has been done to round out America’s travel brand. The destination’s mantra, Discover America, is succinct, but still tugs at the hearts of travelers.


The logo feels seems to allude to points on a map and the destination uses a variety of colors when it comes to execution. A few examples are below.







It has to be daunting to try to encompass an entire country in terms of destination branding; there are so many landmarks and events to consider. But, the site for U.S. tourism does a decent job of spotlighting different activities while also keeping the overall navigation simple. It would be easy to over-complicate or clutter a site like this, but it’s clean and easy to explore.




Established in 1948, the European Travel Commission (ETC) is responsible for the promotion of Europe as a tourist destination. The organization is comprised of 33 countries’ NTOs (National Tourism Organizations) and focuses on PR, advertising and trade promotion.


The logo for Europe feels whimsical and unlimited. The wing-like effect makes me think of an adventure taking flight, and even though that might feel a bit cheesy, with all you can see and experience in Europe, it feels right. Two different executions are below.





In addition to the logos above, there is an additional treatment of the word Europe used on the site, paired with a tagline-esque call to action (see below).



The website does its best to pack in as much information about the region as possible, while maintaining a simple navigation with a lot of different pathways to planning a vacation. That said, I would have loved to see more photography from each country’s famous landmarks and events.


Asia Pacific

The Asia Pacific region (or just Asia, for that matter) doesn’t seem to have any sort of overarching tourism entity. There are several different organizations that represent various aspects of tourism to the region, and we’ll briefly look at each below.


Pacific Asia Tourism is the first thing that comes up when you do a Google search for “Asia tourism,” but it’s an independent research, consultancy and education/training organization focused on the capacity of sustainable tourism in the region.


The Responsible Tourism Initiative also comes up in a Google search. This initiative focuses solely on Asian tourism operators, so it serves as more of a trade organization than something consumer-facing.


Along those same lines is the Pacific Asia Travel Association: another trade organization where I hoped to find a consumer site focused on tourism in Asia. Instead, it’s built by and for travel professionals in the region and doesn’t really speak to potential visitors.


Finally, I stumbled across this site, titled “Asian Tourism.” This site doesn’t seem to have any affiliation with an organization or tourism entity, but it does offer information on the various countries in the region.



So, after a lot of Google-ing, if I were planning a trip to the Asia Pacific region, I’d research sites like TripAdvisor, Fodors, Frommers and AAA for the best/most reliable information.


So, this concludes our series on destination branding. If you want to review any of the previous posts on destination branding, here are the links: city branding- part one, part two; state and country branding- part one and part two. Now go pack your suitcase and discover your wanderlust!


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Disclaimer: This post is purely subjective. My background is in brand strategy (positioning, messaging and portfolio organization), not design. Good visual branding can be challenging to achieve, and I whole-heartedly respect designers at Addison Whitney and beyond.



“UNWTO: Annual Report, 2012.”,

“About Brand USA.”,

“About ETC.”,


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