August 20, 2013

Destination Branding: A Look at States and Countries around the World (Part One)


Two weeks ago, we started a series on destination branding by looking at cities where we have offices worldwide (Charlotte, Munich, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and Tokyo). A quick recap – 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.


Now, let’s jump into state and country branding…


Part One: North Carolina, Germany and New York


North Carolina

Last month, the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development launched a new look and feel to its travel-planning website, The overhaul was the first time the destination refreshed its identify since 2009.


The previous look was a simple typographic font treatment that referenced the website and the travel destination’s 800 number.



The new identity is much more visual and showcases the state’s natural resources along with a new tagline, “beauty amplified.” Two different applications are below.




The new website pays precise attention to the natural beauty of North Carolina and showcases it in a way that draws the potential visitor in. It’s easy to navigate and really delivers on the “beauty amplified” positioning.




Germany is up next. For more than 60 years, the German National Tourist Board has been promoting the country as a travel destination. Germany is a nation rich in history and culture, but the logo doesn’t seem to reflect much of that life. Sure, the colors connect to the country, but overall, the icon doesn’t tell a story.



The website feels a little dated. It’s nice that the destination chose to exhibit larger photos from around Germany, but they’re muddled by the center navigation. With images like these, you would imagine a site rich in visuals that easily and cleanly tells the story of Germany’s most well-known cities and lesser-known jewels.




New York

To round out today’s state and country branding post, we’ll focus on the state of New York. New York’s logo is probably one of the most well recognized in the U.S. and it works. Two different executions of the logo are below.




Of course, New York has a lot to offer as a travel destination. That said, it feels like it’s trying too hard to fit all of that information on the home page. I guess I wish it told more of a story about the state of New York, especially since so many immediately think of Manhattan first.



So, that’s part one of our look at state and country branding. On Thursday, we’ll round out our observations by highlighting California, Washington and Japan. Stay tuned!


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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.”,


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