I recently came across a few lines that really made me think about the Caribbean, the various nations, and how they each try to stand out among the crowd. It read: “Customers are comparing your brand’s value to that of competing brands. To differentiate from your competition, you must ascertain key competitor’s value propositions. Points of differentiation between your brand and those of competitors may be specific features or a focus on different experiences.” (Sturman, Michael C. Cornell School of Hotel Administration on Hospitality: Cutting Edge Thinking and Practice. Wiley, 2011, pp 398)
The chapter goes on to discuss brand slogans and how once a brand has chosen a slogan, particularly for that of a nation, the various marketing assets, packages, and messaging should all support that slogan’s claim. When applied to the Caribbean, it leads to differentiation among nations BUT it also leads to a more interesting region as a whole.
One of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association’s key goals for 2017 is to market the Caribbean region as an entirety:
“…manage a sustained marketing campaign capitalizing on the untapped popularity of the Caribbean brand. By showcasing diversity of the Caribbean product offer and promoting the Caribbean as a region for a lifetime’s worth of vacation experiences, we aim to not only increase overall visitor arrivals but turn one-time visitors to the region into lifelong Caribbean travelers.”
Better differentiation among the destinations in the Caribbean will more easily allow the region to market itself as a whole without any one part of the whole feeling as though they’re in competition with another.
How to do this? Start with yourself.
- Find positioning points (things that are unique to your island)
- Discover traveler motivation (which provides meaning and connects the traveler to your nation – why did they choose you?) in coming to your country
Combine and align these two and you have the core elements for a customer-based branding strategy.
As an example, you can look at the Caribbean island tourism taglines and analyze each from there to see how they can, are, or should be differentiating.
Anguilla: Tranquility Wrapped in Blue
Aruba: One Happy Island
British Virgin Islands: Nature’s Little Secrets
Dominican Republic: Has It All
Grenada: The Spice of the Caribbean
Jamaica: Now That’s What I Call All Right
Montserrat: Off The Grid
St. Kitts: Follow Your Heart
St. Lucia: Simply Beautiful
Let’s take a look at the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and their tagline of Simply Beautiful and how their positioning should be playing into every aspect of their marketing:
Brand Promise: Beauty
Brand Elements: Natural Beauty & Beautiful Memories
Brand Touchpoints: Natural Beauty = sweeping lush tropical views, views of the Pitons, hotels with three walls, outdoor exploration, tropical gardens, underwater beauty. Beautiful Memories = the island of romance, honeymoons, weddings, romantic dinners with sweeping views etc.
After you’ve done your own brand hierarchy (like above), to see where you are positioned within the Caribbean you should do the same for the other islands and see where you enjoy a differential advantage and stem your marketing from there.
To summarize, in order to market the Caribbean a region, regional interests must first get behind the ‘rising tide’ idea (a rising tide lifts all ships). In order to do that, each destination must first feel secure in it’s own brand position and in order to do that, unique positioning points must be found for each and all subsequent marketing messages should support that differential.6