Where will you go this summer?

Memorial Day is the traditional kick off to summer. Where will you go and what has helped you decide?

Travel and tourism ads have caught my attention recently. Some ads are sponsored at the state level; others cover a region and still others focus on a specific city or destination.

At the heart of every travel and tourism campaign is a tagline, slogan or brand icon.  From a marketing perspective, what makes these great and stand above the rest? Here are a few factors.

  1. Unique.  To catch your attention, the tagline, slogan or brand icon must be one of a kind.  If another state, region or city can be substituted, it is not unique and ultimately will cause confusion.

For instance, an ad headline for a Michigan city said: “Your vacation memories will be CRYSTAL CLEAR”. (Their caps.) Although the water is crystal clear in many areas of Michigan (thanks to sandy bottoms), I expected the ad to be about Crystal Lake not Petoskey (the originator of the ad).

“Do the IN thing…Indiana State Parks and Inns” is another example and uses the abbreviation of Indiana. Although the wording is a bit trite, no one else can claim IN.

One of the best tourism campaigns for showing uniqueness in the use of the state name is Maryland. With “Maryland of …history, …excitement, …serenity, ….the free, ….fun …” (and many more adjectives), not only have they showcased the uniqueness of the state, they have used their name in a way no other state can.   With a roulette-wheel-spinning-format, the campaign is very engaging on their website as well.

2.    Simple and memorable.

This icon is the classic for being simple and memorableI hear NY.  This has been spun off and used for many other “heart/love” product and service campaigns and it is used widely on everything from tee shirts to bumper stickers. It does not hurt that the logo can be used for the State of New York as well as New York City.

OHIOOhio’s tourism logo also meets the criteria of being simple and memorable. It is also unique in the way it uses the letters in Ohio to convey friendliness. You can envision this in lots of different applications and communication vehicles.


3.    Broad.

Pure Michigan

When icons and taglines are broad in scope, they become integrated campaigns.  The “Pure Michigan” campaign is a brilliant example of this. In addition to using various communication elements such as TV, print, radio and digital media, the brand has been extended to specific products such as blueberries and apples. Using traditional logo ware as walking billboards is not new. What is new is the “Pure Michigan” logo on a box of blueberries purchased at your grocery store in Cincinnati.

4.    Emotional connection

The ultimate criterion for a campaign that stands above the rest is the emotional connection you feel. Think of the TV, print and radio ads you see and hear; think of the websites, Facebook, Pinterest or other digital media pages you read. What is it that pulls you in? Is it the music, the voice, photographs and images or is it reliving a personal experience?

Whatever it is that pulls you in, enjoy your summer vacation!

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