''More than the mountain'': Branding The Western Cape

04 Mar 2005|Added Value

Destination marketing is about turning countries, regions and cities into brands. For developing countries specifically, this is not simply an exercise in luring tourists, but a calculated and strategic means to increase trade and investment too. Proactively managing how a region is perceived is becoming a priority around the world.

Following their involvement in the positioning work done with Unilever and the IMC for Brand SA, strategic marketing specialists, Added Value, were asked to develop a single brand for Cape Town and the Western Cape. The goal was to align the marketing efforts of the various organisations and agencies promoting the Western Cape. The approach was to develop a brand strategy that presents a co-ordinated and united image for the entire region, ensuring that all Tourism, Trade, Exports, Investment, Film and Major Events activities work together to project a consistent and mutually reinforcing message.

Based on deep insight into the needs of international and local consumers (e.g. tourists and exporters) and influencers (e.g travel agents and journalists) from the five sectors, the resulting strategy merged the distinctive and world-renowned Cape Town brand with the richness and depth of the Western Cape hinterland using the common word ‘Cape’ to create a unifying element.

According to Dave Blackshaw, Deputy Managing Director of Added Value, “Brands exist whether you like it or not, so this exercise was about influencing the perceptions we want people to have. Obviously, a brand must be credible and should offer a future vision.” Blackshaw continues, “So, Brand Cape is energetic, creative and resonant with African sophistication and flair. The brand is optimistic; it focuses on renewal, revitalisation, quality, hospitality and scenic beauty, combining welcoming country geniality with the vibrant sophistication of the city.”

Armed with the strategy, branding and design experts, Switch Design Group, were appointed to create a unique visual identity to bring the brand to life. Simon Arenhold, Account Director for Switch Design group, was impressed with the brief, believing that a strong brand strategy is key to successful corporate identity creation.

Arenhold explains further, “A brand’s visual identity should be the tangible aspect of its core messaging, encapsulating the brands’ emotional traits into a single iconic image. Added Value’s research and insight was used as a strategic platform for the design process, allowing the designers to draw reference from a variety of the brand’s core indicators.”

With the direction of the strategy, Arenhold says the Switch designers were able to create an icon that was “more than the mountain”, relevant to all the six regions which make up the Western Cape. He explains, “The logo describes the natural scenic beauty of the whole region. It also portrays the strong, vibrant and idiosyncratic human element of the area. Both of these are critical to reinforcing the region’s hospitality. Aligning the brand to the South African flag through colour and energy also supports a sense of the Cape as intrinsically South African.”

Both Added Value and Switch believe that the end result of their efforts represents an example of how strategy should inform striking and meaningful creative work.

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