Grenada’s Tourism Re-branding Issue

In an effort to understand and explain the confusion created in the minds of the Grenadian public in relation to the rebranding of Grenada as, “Pure Grenada”, one must first define the term “branding”.

Branding is essentially a promise made to potential users and consumers of a product or service and can be represented by products, services, standards, signs, logos, colours, taglines, symbols and uniforms etc. It is essentially a reputation that is supported by a positioning statement which helps differentiates a company/organisation or in Grenada’s case a destination.

What is truly important is our ability to supply and deliver on that positioning statement in relation to the tourism products and services we supply. For example, in the case of Dominica branded as “the nature island” and “eco destination of the Caribbean”, there must be a requisite set of natural products that are supplied by the island to support this statement. Home to 365 rivers Dominica also has other natural products including: waterfalls, rivers, sulphur ponds and hot springs among others.

In the case of Antigua, where the positioning statement says, “the beach is just the beginning”, the unique selling point is supported by the numerous beaches they are able to supply.

To rebrand a destination without the involvement of your people is unheard of. If our people are not aware of and understand the promises made to visitors by tourism officials on our behalf, we cannot and will not be in a position to support and deliver on them.

Sadly, our people are now waking up to the realisation that our “spice brand” is replaced by “Pure Grenada” and a logo that we cannot identify with. Furthermore, it is a symbol that changes colours depending on where it is used and ranges from blue, red or white.

Worse of all, we are waking up to a brand that we do not understand, as there is no clear positioning statement attached. If there is one other than a video on the website, then we are yet to be told. Therefore, as creative people we are putting our own spin on it. Unfortunately, it is not all positive and most are suitable for publication.

The truth is, for this brand to succeed all Grenadians must support it, after all we are very much an integral part of the product. Additionally, we are the ones called upon to deliver on the promises made in the tourism marketing message. Our friendliness and warm welcome to visitors are two of our unique selling points, promised to visitors. So for tourism officials to say that this brand is mainly for outside consumption is ludicrous.

If this is the case, then they should not be surprised that it has become one of the hottest talking points. After all, the destination belongs to us and certainly not just a few “brand experts”. If we have to promote it, defend it and have an emotional attachment to it, then we must have an input in deciding what it should be. This is not a company owned by a few people. It is our destination! Successful brands like Walt Disney, Sandals and Spice Island Beach Resort understands the importance of their people.

Another point worth making is the fact that we have seemingly lifted a brand that belongs to another destination, “100% Pure New Zealand”. I ask our tourism officials this question, what would they have done if Jamaica had that same brand, 100 % Pure Jamaica? Would they have adopted it?

When a destination is being re-branded here are some questions which should be considered:

What is our point of differentiation or our unique selling point/s?

What will be the new positioning statement and how different it is from the old one?

Who is our target market?

Have we done the research to know what the target market is demanding?

Does the destination have the ability to supply that demand?

Did we get input from a cross section of the population including: Tourism officials, Academia, Media, Marketing Experts, Officials from the Caribbean Tourism Organization, NGO’s and people who understand the concept of branding?

What methods should we use to inform the public about the brand and what it means?

The “Spice of the Caribbean” positioning statement of Grenada, says that amongst the Caribbean islands, the availability of a range of spices is what sets us apart from others. The fact that we are the world 2nd largest supplier of nutmegs counts for something. Fortunately, for us, the mature nutmeg is naturally dressed in our national colours which is another advantage.

Therefore, while the physical Spice is part of our core product, we have much more tourism assets which support this positioning statement particularly the intangible “cultural spice”. “Come to Grenada, we add flavouring to your vacation.” “Come to Grenada and spice up your life”. It implies that Grenada is rich in diversity and that the spice flavour permeates our foods and the very “soul” of our people.

As one Dominican journalist puts it, “Spice is in every Grenadian DNA. Socio-culturally, we are branded as an open, friendly people who extend ourselves in hospitality to others, almost unconditionally.

Additionally, any new product or service has a life cycle. It is born/ introduced, grows, matures and decline. Our destination is still growing and according to preliminary statistics received from the Grenada Tourism Authority, Stayover arrivals recorded for 2013 was only 116,456. We have yet to reach any sign of maturity, so rebranding may not be the correct response to our performance limitations.

The debate continues and the meaning of the brand still eludes us. So how do we fix this? Clearly, there is need for a compromise going forward. So here are my suggestions:

(1) Admit we have made some errors with the process

(2) A consideration for the following additions: “Pure Grenada – The Spice of the Caribbean” or “Pure Grenada – Green, Spicy, Diverse”.

(3). Adjustments must also be made regarding the imagery, symbols and colours. Specifically, the nutmeg must be displayed in its natural colours.

(4). The implementation of an urgent domestic public relations campaign to educate our people on the brand and the need for us all to take ownership of the brand as well as the brand values and its promises.

(5). Internal sign off on the new brand must be systematically achieved through dialogue with all relevant groups in the society. If not, there will be mixed signals in the market place where the secondary brand, “Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean” might quite possibly supersede the primary brand; “Pure Grenada”.

One thing is certain, for a brand to thrive and succeed, you have to promote it. Significant resources must be invested so that potential customers get to know about it and wants to try it. It must have sufficient appeal to keep people interested, if not it will just exist or simply fade away.

Naline Joseph

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