by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua.
What is a logo?
Since the late 80s @Supergreybeard and I have been involved in a number of commercial activities that required an identity, ie, a trading name, logo, collateral material and, once the internet came on stream, a website etc. Over time many of these companies (Delaney Marketing Consultants, Ovation Group etc) became “brands”, blossoming into distinct personalities, building trust and reputation, gaining profile, becoming known, finally standing apart for their creators and assuming a life of their own. I guess we always knew that a brand was not a logo anymore than a person is a photograph of themselves.
Since we started SoolNua in 2014 we’ve had the good fortune to work with a number of very strong brands – hotels, venues, destinations – and, more than ever, we’re convinced that a brand is not the sum of its visual assets. However, we’re also 100% certain that these visual assets are a vitally important part of the brand and a key instrument in maintaining brand profile in a packed and crowded market with an ever diminishing attention span.
Re-launching the DMC Network
For this reason we’re particularly proud of the work we’ve been doing with the DMC Network over the past 8 months and which, next week, will formally launch at the IMEX show in Las Vegas. This work was a brand refresh that includes a new logo, strap line and tag line as well as a totally new website site and attendant micro-sites for each of the member companies of the partnership. The visual assets to be launched next week represent the collective efforts of a small army but, in particular, the designers, Michael and Serene of BehMehMedia in London, Dan Tavrytzky (Managing Director of the DMC Network), Matt Cuevas (Member of Board of DMC Network and President of Cappa & Graham) and ourselves, the SoolNua team
The project commenced last December at a three day board retreat in Lake Tahoe, California during which we collectively interrogated the evolving role of the destination management company (DMC), trying to distil its essence. What, uniquely and indispensably, does a destination management company do? While it’s easy to list the things that DMCs do (transport, logistics, off property functions, locals tours and experiences etc), these are merely features on a product menu or service palette. The benefits behind these features are the lasting things – so access to local expertise, knowledge and relationships, time / cost savings plus the crucial peace of mind that stems from them. At the end of the day DMCs bring comfort and peace of mind.
But what is the difference?
But these benefits should be available from any professional DMC so what is it that makes DMC Network partner companies different or special? This involved more discussion, debate and dialogue but soon the following 3 characteristics came to light: DMC Network members are all legacy DMCs, ie, on average they’ve been operating in their locations for 25 years; secondly, they are all owner-managed with the owner taking an active part in the day-to-day running of the business; thirdly, they are all accredited by the Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI) and so operate to the highest standards of professionalism in our industry, both as enterprise entities and as individual owners.
From this discussion we were able to formulate vision and mission statements as follows:
“[We aspire] … to be recognised as the industry’s most reliable, trustworthy and consistent global community of destination management companies (DMCs)”
“We connect you to the industry’s only community of fully accredited, owner-managed, legacy DMCs whose unsurpassed local relationships, knowledge and expertise guarantees peace of mind and flawless program (sic) delivery”
In turn the vision and mission helped us to formulate the brand value proposition:
We are the industry’s only fully member-owned community of DMCs operating at 50 destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
We bring value to our members and clients in the following ways:
To members: we bring participation in a dynamic, trust-driven community of like-minded DMCs sharing best practice, education, networking and customer referrals;
To clients: we bring connection to a community of accredited, owner-managed, legacy DMCs whose unsurpassed local relationships, knowledge and expertise guarantees peace of mind and flawless programme delivery.
In Lake Tahoe too the board decided that the present visual identity and assets no longer represented the essence, core purpose and ambition of the DMC Network. Therefore, a new “look and feel” would be necessary. And thus began the second phase of the project, to create a new identity and website for the organisation.
Having being hugely impressed by their work for INCON, the global consortium of PCOs, we brought Michael and Serene from BehMehMedia on board and embarked on a hugely enriching journey which has taken us now to the launch, at IMEX, of a new logo, strap line, tagline and website. Our work involved consultation at all times with the Board and, indeed, via webinar presentations, with the entire membership. We used Sli.do to great effect to take on-line polls, capture questions and, overall, crowdsource consensual solutions (thanks Sli.do!!!).
The logo had a particularly long gestation. Michael and Serene presented a total of 6 different logo treatments and, while an early version of the final choice was in that first set, it didn’t emerge immediately as the outlier. There were several iterations and reiterations before we arrived at the final version: a beautiful, colourful mosaic of locator pins – beautiful together but also beautiful apart when rendered as part of the local destination lockup. We think it really captures the essence of the DMC Network – independent DMCs on location, who contribute their unique local colour to the collective entity.
The strap line and tag line came easier. Destination management is a profession in evolution moving from the transactional, commoditised activity of a commercial company to the higher value knowledge contribution of a consultant: thus DMC Network partners are Destination Management Consultants. And the tag line? Well it wrote itself really. When you want to let someone know that they have your full support, that you’re walking beside them every step of the way, that you have their back no matter what, you say – “I’m there for you”. And that, in essence, is what the DMC Network offers to clients:
We’re there for you
On Tues next we’ll launch the new identity in Las Vegas, Nevada along with the new website which – I hope you’ll agree – is a thing of rare beauty. From Lake Tahoe, California to Las Vegas, Nevada is not that far but, for this project, there’ve been millions of miles in between of lengthy conversations, long e-mails, detailed debates and lively discussions involving two ex-pat Australians living in London, two Irish sometimes in Dublin, something elsewhere and two west coast Americans in Arizona and California.
And now for the next phase!
Pádraic Gilligan, Patrick M Delaney and Aoife McCrum are SoolNua. We work with destinations, hotels, venues and agencies on strategy, marketing and training for the MICE market.