Destination marketers need to understand the different types of value that a place can offer. This understanding starts with clearly defining a place’s intrinsic character, also known as Place DNA®. DMOs that build their branding on a true community identity will be able to improve the experience and the value they bring to their stakeholders.

How can destinations leverage Place DNA® to create an effective branding strategy?

Destination Think’s Senior Strategic Consultant Frank Cuypers has written an informative series of articles on place branding. Cuypers emphasizes the importance of Place DNA® as the origin of a place’s product, experiences, brand, marketing and management. It’s your destination’s test for authenticity, and you can’t do without it.

Explore this curated list to learn how you can reshape your destination marketing:

Your essential Place DNA® reading list

Introduction: Why place branding needs to be built from the inside

An authentic place brand begins with people, not marketing. Learn why the brand’s true identity can only be uncovered through residents, from the inside out. Read examples of destinations that have gained a competitive advantage (or have lost their edge) by respecting (or ignoring) their DNA. According to Cuypers, “There can be no city branding without citizens and no destination branding without residents.”

Place DNA(tm)

Three layers of place branding.

1) Why destination marketers need to understand Place DNA®

This first article of the Place DNA® series defines the three layers of place branding, where Place DNA® sits firmly in the centre. What is the DNA of a place and why is it important? Why is a destination’s DNA relevant to place making, place marketing and destination marketing? Read this article to find out.

2) Use Place DNA® to define your destination’s core identity

Place DNA® sits at the centre of place branding. In this second article, Cuypers describes the elements of Place DNA® and gives examples of success and failures. Read to find out what success for destinations can look like.

3) Need better visitor stories? Improve your place product

Peeling off the layers of a place brand one by one, this article focuses on place product and its direct link to Place DNA®. How do people experience your place? What factors affect how people spend their time there? The experiences a place creates will shape the stories told by its residents and visitors, like it did in Stratford, Canada. Read the whole article to find out how a focus on product is essential to your marketing success.

4) 3 essential elements of the place brand formula

How does the rest of the world see your destination? In the last article in the series, we arrive at the layer that many DMOs feel most comfortable with: branding. Cuypers goes into detail on the elements of branding, linking this outer layer to Place DNA® and place product.

Bonus reading: Gold Coast Tourism rebrands by unearthing its destination’s DNA

Jan Hutton, Chief Marketing Officer of Gold Coast Tourism, describes how uncovering and articulating their Place DNA® has helped them rebrand and work toward giving their visitors better experiences.


Are you developing your brand strategy? Destination Think has helped many destinations as a unique partner through our Place DNA® process, workshops and consultation. To learn how to identify your destination’s Place DNA® and refine your destination’s brand, contact us today.

Featured image credit: fdecomite_Flickr

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