Thailand Needs to Get Its Brand Image Right
David Keen, CEO of KEEN, outlines the challenges of national branding at the PATA Thailand Chapter AGM
BANGKOK, 22 February 2011 – Does Thailand's brand, "Amazing Thailand" still cut it in the international marketplace? David Keen, CEO of KEEN, a Bangkok based global branding agency, told travel industry leaders that "Amazing Thailand," announced in 1997, needs to change.
Addressing the PATA Thailand Chapter AGM on 16 February in Bangkok, he cited dynamic campaigns such as "Inspired by Iceland," "Incredible India," "100% Pure New Zealand," "I Love NY," "Egypt – Where It All Begins," and Queensland's "Island Caretaker -- Best Job in the World" as brilliant branding campaigns.
"Amazing Thailand has been eclipsed and is now out of date compared to other destination brands that are changing all the time," said Keen.
"The current 'Amazing' campaign doesn't reflect the future of Thailand. It is also driving [tourism] prices down. 'Amazing' is now a misunderstood brand in the international market," said Keen.
Keen told the PATA Thailand Chapter, a voluntary not-for-profit membership organisation that supports the responsible development of tourism in Thailand, that Thailand has to face up to the challenge. "The branding of Thailand and Thai institutions should be done in Thailand. It should be done with multi-dimensional thought and the interests of the Thai people at heart," he said.
The CEO of KEEN, which has 90 staff at its Bangkok head office, told the audience: "We have a responsibility to define ourselves with truth. We cannot let people misconstrue our country, our people and values."
Commenting on the presentation, PATA Thailand Chapter Chairman, Mr Bert van Walbeek, said: "Inspirational branding is of paramount importance for a country's success in tourism and business. Thailand needs to be at the forefront of people's minds in a positive way. We can't rest on past triumphs."
Keen told the audience that a successful brand encapsulates the soul, spirit and aspirations of a people as well as vital aspects of a country such as its attractions, charm, history, music, language and culture. "When creating a successful brand, the forces that are at stake are considerable. The aim is to get to the core and represent it truthfully," he said.
There was an additional cautionary note for Thailand, which has experienced political instability for five years. "When the quality of a brand drops, the quality of the tourists that visit your country also drops," said Keen. "It is Thailand's responsibility to uphold and keep up its brand. Otherwise it will find itself in a downward spiral."
About the PATA Thailand Chapter
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Thailand Chapter is a voluntary not-for-profit membership organisation that supports the responsible development of the travel and tourism industry in Thailand. The Chapter organises tourism training seminars, disseminates useful information to its members and the media and supports the strategic objectives of PATA head office. The Chapter comprises both private and government sectors. Further information: www.pata-thailand.org.
KEEN is a global branding specialist agency driving destinations, hospitality brands and travel and tourism enterprises to the global forefront. KEEN's portfolio of travel and tourism brands spans six continents and includes some of the biggest names in hospitality in Asia Pacific and beyond. From strategy and conception to brand application and execution, Keen has worked with brands such as Accor, Anantara, Jumeirah Group and Onyx (Amari) to UN agencies such as INICEF and UNDP, to pioneers of medical tourism such as Bumrungrad International and with travel entities such as Brunei Tourism, the Tourism Council of Bhutan, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Pacific Asia Travel Association. KEEN is in the process of creating a new brand identity for the Maldives www.discoverkeen.com