Interviews and insights to help tourism businesses become remarkable.

Why do people get around with ‘I Heart New York’ & ‘I Heart Tokyo’ type of gear?

They’re not wearing ‘I heart Melbourne’ much. It’d also feel a little reaching and disingenuous too, right?

So why are they?

It’s not because the restaurants are great. They probably are, but there are great restaurants everywhere.

It’s not public transport. The parks. The famous wineries. Not even necessarily the history, I mean there is far more history in small European countries so it can’t be that.

So we can cross ‘features’ off the list.

It is not because they got fit, reformed their diet, became more knowledgeable about the world, ticked an item off their bucket list, or met the love of their life. That’s not why people are wearing the t-shirt.

So we can cross ‘benefits’ off the list.

It is not even because they had a great time, feel refreshed, have a new perspective on the world that will carry them forward in life, or you would see far more ‘I heart Hawaii’ t-shirts around.

So let’s cross ’emotions’ off the list.

It is because of what it says about them.

Who it makes them feel like they are, and by association, what tribe they belong to.

Tokyo = I am trendy, I’m hip, edgy and exciting.

New York = I’m cool, I’m now, I’m contemporary.

California = I prioritise lifestyle, chase my dreams, I’m adventurous and woke.

They’re reaching for an aspirational identity.

Branding is no longer about features and benefits. It is about who people see themselves as.

“The city must proactively manage its identity and reputation, or others will define it.” (from “Place Branding for Small Cities, Regions and Downtowns: The Essentials for Successful Destinations” by Bill Baker)

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