5 Ways to Create a Destination Brand

Cat Archer Underwood of Coho Digital talks to us about destination branding and making our businesses the 'go to' place for our ideal clients.

Desk with flowers and stationery

destination brand is about making your business a ‘go to’ place for your ideal clients.

This idea is absolutely NOT the preserve of the big players out there; it’s for you, the small & powerful indie entrepreneur.

Why you want your brand to be a Destination
Did you ever used to go to Garden Centres, 10 or so years ago?

Stay with me here it’s relevant I promise…

Have you noticed how nowadays they’re not just retailers for garden products - they’re places you visit to stay awhile, browse & enjoy some culinary delights too?

This industry has made a conscious decision to turn their offering into a Destination: a place you want to visit for the sake of enjoying it, for the experience of it, rather than just the practical purposes of buying some new pots.

This is a similar principle to how you might also turn your brand into a destination. The key difference in your industry, is that you can up the seriously up the ante!

Because you want your ideal client to crave working with you: to make your business the only choice for them.

Think how honeymooners crave the Maldives; how new entrepreneurs binge on Marie Forleo content, or how the local, boutique florist creates beautiful, rustic arrangements like no one else: Being a destination is about carving out a spot in the market that ONLY you can occupy, so you make yourself the only choice for your ideal clients.

Sounds good right? So here are my five tips:

Cat Archer Underwood

1. Get clear on your core values & message
I love to be small & agile. I love to consciously review what I offer, my processes & visual branding - to make sure I’m ahead of the curve & happy with my offering.

But, this must be balanced with knowing when to stand still.

Think about it, if you’re going to be a Destination that your ideal client seeks out, they need understand who you are, what you stand for & how to find you.

So the key here is to identify :

  • Your unshakable values that don’t change frequently - get really clear on how you do things
  • Why clients choose you; what you most want to be known for - be specific here so you don’t blend in with what everyone else says

2. Give high value at every touch-point
It takes up to eight contacts with your brand before a buying decision is made. In fact, even after a buying decision is made, us humans like to be convinced we’ve made the right decision.

So once you’ve got your brand identity, make the whole experience of following you & buying from you fabulously unique, consistent, special & high value.

When you give a fabulous experience & help your ideal clients by sharing knowledge & value, you’re building a high expectation relationship with them. They’ll come to see you as a trusted voice they love to follow & buy from, while you create an experience that nurtures a value-focused mindset, rather than price-driven.

3. Create a visual & sensory experience like no other
You’ve probably really shifted your visual expectations over the last few years. Did you used to just take general holiday snaps without a second thought? Would you have ever even considered how pleasing it is to capture the art on your coffee, or carefully arrange your notebooks & pens for a flat lay?

Instagram has played a pivotal role in elevating our visual expectations. And the trend is on the up & up.

A lot of this is down to the emotional, visual appeal. For example, a brand whose illustrations are whimsical & magical, will have certain people coming back for more because they receive nostalgic, positive feelings they crave again.

The emotional power of visual branding is a huge opportunity: Take time over your colours, logo & graphics, your photography & use beautiful brochureware, emails & web design.

When the branding is right, you can offer a sensory, emotive experience that is truly memorable & talked about. This is why colour psychology in branding is so powerful, because it’s about how it feels more than how it looks.

Cat Archer Underwood

4. Show up in person
People really do buy from people they know, like & trust. Whatever brand type you’re using (personal brand, services/product brand etc), you can build your brand visibility by showing up in person.

Glossy & polished visuals have a clear purpose as above, but it does end up leaving many of us craving authenticity. Sometimes we just want to know it’s all real - not filtered for show.

Here’s where live streaming & showing up in the real world comes in. You physically could not sustain regular live videos in a way that wasn’t truly you. Your mask would slip eventually. So live streaming is great for indie entrepreneurs, because it’s an authentic way to connect with your followers.

You’re opening the door to a relationship that builds an emotional, trust connection to you - which in time, for the right people, translates to loyalty.

5. Brand story & the art of storytelling

Brand story
Brand story encapsulates everything above. It’s about taking the real elements of your personality, your strengths & standards, & excavating them into your brand visuals, experiences & communications. It’s unbelievably powerful.

“Your story isn’t just what you tell people. It’s what they believe about you based on the signals your brand sends. The story is a complete picture made up of facts, feelings, and interpretations, which means that part of your story isn’t even told by you” http://thestoryoftelling.com/what-is-a-brand-story/

Take Coco Chanel; her spirit & exacting standards still run through the brand today. Or a brand like airBnB, who revolutionised ‘homestay’ holidays by building a brand based on feeling: how it feels to travel & access a place on deeper level than as a hotel tourist.

Slightly different to this, is the art of storytelling. We humans LOVE stories - literally, there’s a release of oxytocin when we hear one.

You can use this to better engage your ideal audience in your messaging. Your about page, social media posts, marketing materials & ideo are all great storytelling platforms, but the most powerful tool is definitely video. A scripted, produced video is utterly resonant & engaging.

A great story structure can be as simple as; set the normal, the explosive big change, then the new normal & how it’s better. See how many times you notice brands doing this!

Imagine being a Destination brand
Instead of pushing out your marketing messages, clients seek you out. They return again & again & they rave about you to their friends. They love to buy from you, work with you & highly respect what you do.

They actually enjoy spending their hard-earned money with you, because they appreciate what you deliver. No hustling. No competing on price.

The aim of the game is to build emotive experience, authentic connections & know when to stand still & stand behind your message - like the lighthouse who confidently shines brightly.

Can you think of destination brands you love?
What one thing could you do this week to carve yourself out as a destination? I’d love to hear from you!

Cat has a wealth of knowledge around brand building, if you would like to find out more about her and her business, head over to her website. You can also follow her on Instagram or Facebook.