Branding & Naming Expert President of Tungsten Branding
(Excerpts) “This is a tough one — I don’t envy the tourism marketers for Arizona,” sums up Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding. “In this kind of scenario, the challenge is to maintain a strategic balance between over- and under-reacting. An overly aggressive approach can come off as shrill, and actually end up adding to the controversy by getting people who weren’t even aware of or very interested in the issue involved.”
“In general, it would seem better to stay very non-political and stay on talking points about the larger, enduring ‘brand’ of Arizona — what makes the state beautiful and attractive to visitors,” Davis continues, noting that even the worst political or PR crises eventually subside. “You might want to consider adjusting or toning down certain aspects of an existing marketing campaign for the present, but it doesn’t make sense to just drop current positioning.”
While Arizona’s current “Free to Be” tagline is admittedly not ideal at present, he points to the example of Toyota — which instead of dropping its ‘Moving Forward’ tagline in the face of its vehicle acceleration crisis, just downplayed the phrase and focused on taking concrete steps to motivate consumers to buy its cars.
Davis approves of the strategy of reaching out to existing brand loyalists, or “friendlies,” during such a crisis. Trying to convert or change the minds of people who are currently angry or antagonistic toward a brand is “hugely expensive,” can take years, and is in any case likely to come off as “artificial and contrived,” he points out. “It’s easier and more effective to swim downstream, by reaching out to those existing loyalists — including those who have enjoyed visiting the region in the past.”
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