August 22, 2013

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


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.


On Tuesday, we continued our series on destination branding by looking at states and countries (specifically, North Carolina, Germany and New York). Today, we’ll cover the rest of the states and countries where we have offices…


Part Two: California, Washington and Japan



California is the third largest state by area, so you can imagine how much work goes into branding it as a travel destination. When searching for the tourism entity’s logo, I found two versions – the one being used on the website now and one from a few years back. The difference lies in the font treatment, where the current logo is more cartoon-y than the old.


Here’s the current logo:




And here’s one from a few years back:



Given the immense amount of information the website needs to cover, I think Visit California has done a good job of simplifying vacation options for potential visitors. And, it’s presented in a way that keeps it interesting and on-brand.




Washington seems to have had a somewhat tumultuous past when it comes to its tourism organizations. In February 2011, the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) was created following the announcement of the closure of the state tourism office. The WTA immediately worked to protect and preserve a number of ongoing state tourism programs and valuable marketing assets of great importance to the industry. In addition, the WTA began to create a long-term strategy for funding, development and marketing of a new, industry driven state destination tourism initiative.


Washington’s tourism logo emphasizes the natural resources of the state in much of the same way that North Carolina’s new logo does. What confused me a bit was the inclusion of “The State” under Washington. I’m sure there’s some initial confusion regarding whether someone is talking about Washington state or D.C., but I’m not sure tacking on “The State” to the logo is necessary.





And, since the website does such a beautiful job of highlighting what makes Washington a great place to visit, I feel “The State” is even less necessary.




Last up is Japan. Since 1964, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has led a broad range of activities promoting travel to Japan through various activities overseas as well as tourism-promoting activities in the country itself. Interestingly enough, the country’s travel brand has two different identities: one for the NTO and another, more consumer-friendly tourism brand.





That said, the website follows a different approach. The landing page for Japan’s travel site features both logos, although neither is featured prominently.



Once I chose English, I found that the new site didn’t feature the consumer-friendly Japan travel logo at all, which I found a little strange. I feel like the “Endless Discovery” logo tells an intriguing story and could be used as a showpiece for Japan’s travel site.




So, that concludes our look at state and country branding. In two weeks, we’ll finish up this series by diving into how the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific regions handle tourism branding. 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.”,

“About WTA.” Washington Tourism Alliance,

“What is JNTO?”,




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