Pick a brand and stick with it, councillors told
Too many brands ruin the message, and Marlborough needs to resist the urge to add more if it wants to stay on point and attract visitors, a new report has found.
The council commissioned the ‘Destination Marketing Review Marlborough’ to make sure the region was getting bang for its buck when it came to promotion.
Independent consultant Richard Jeffery found plenty to like about the region and its potential to attract visitors, however he was critical about the way it was being branded.
The Marlborough District Council launched the ‘Marlborough Story’ marketing platform in 2014, which produced the ‘Only Marlborough’ slogan to replace ‘Love Marlborough’.
At the same time, the regional tourism organisation Destination Marlborough pitched in with its own tagline ‘Marlborough – brilliant every day’.
Jeffrey said multiple brand messages needed to be resisted in the future, and that ‘‘destination branding is currently diluted and when the timing is right, brand consolidation should be considered’’.
Branding and identity issues have long plagued Marlborough, from calls to change town names, to the succession of slogans used to market the region to visitors.
Last year a group of winemakers proposed changing the name of Blenheim to ‘Marlborough City’, regardless of the fact the population of the town fell short of the claim.
Picton, fed up with being known as the ‘gateway to the South’, sought to ditch the drivethrough connotations with a new destination-orientated slogan ‘heart of the Sounds’. And just last month, plans were revealed to try and change the name of the south Marlborough town of Ward to ‘Flaxbourne’, as a homage to the history of the area.
The review identified some of the barriers preventing growth in Marlborough, where visitor spend was growing at a slower rate than the national average. These included flight costs and capacity, Cook Strait ferry crossings, a lack of accommodation close to major venues, the closure of State Highway 1, and the concept of Marlborough as a gateway.
‘‘Everyone agrees we have two clear visitor brand offerings: ‘Wine Region’ and ‘Marlborough Sounds’, which both provide a great ‘playground’ for commercial providers and our visitors,’’ he said.
The report found that, generally, feedback about Destination Marlborough was positive. However, it noted day-to-day relationships with small tourism operators in Picton and the Marlborough Sounds had not alway been easy.
‘‘If this area is to be addressed, the appointment of a ‘Small Operators Trade Partner’ coordinator could be investigated and might require additional financial resource,’’ it said.
Jeffrey suggested there should be a collective key performance indicator (KPI) for the theatre, convention centre and Destination Marlborough to win 10 bids a year for multi-day conferences of more than 100 delegates.
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said ‘‘we need to work through the detail of what such a ‘venues review’ might look like, but there is definitely a significant opportunity there’’. ‘‘We do have an excellent platform on which to build our future success as a visitor destination,’’ Leggett said. Swimming deer stuns mussel farmer in the Sounds.
The ‘Destination Marketing Review Marlborough’ report found the region’s two clearest brand offerings were being a wine region, and having the Marlborough Sounds.