THE Prom Country brand name should be maintained. That was top of the 33 recommendations of the South Gippsland Brand Review report prepared for South Gippsland Shire Council by consultancy Copy Transmission.
One of the tasks of the new shire council to be elected later this year will be to consider a response to the report, which was received by Council at its meeting last Wednesday.
South Gippsland has been promoted to external markets under the ‘Prom Country’ identity for the past 15 years. The consultants assessed the effectiveness and suitability of this brand, together with other existing sub-regional brands, and concluded that on balance the Prom Country brand name should be maintained.
They noted a broad spectrum of feelings about the brand, with some stakeholders averse to what they perceive is ‘prom-centric’ branding and urging change. However, the number who urge change are counterbalanced by others who believe, equally as strongly, that the Prom should be central to branding.
There was a similar dichotomy of opinion amongst the shire councillors discussing the review at last week’s meeting.
Cr Andrew McEwen said that many businesses do not identify with the Prom Country brand and the evidence to justify the conclusion to continue with it was “thin on the ground”. He claimed there had been insufficient consultation.
Cr Don Hill said that Prom Country was “a tourism name” and didn’t promote the all-important agricultural and fresh produce credentials of the shire. “Prom Country is not all-encompassing,” he argued.
Cr Mohya Davies, on the other hand, said she was “passionate about the Prom Country brand” and she strongly supported retaining it.
The consultants concluded in their report that their findings were enough to recommend that calls for changing the brand name should be acknowledged but denied. They noted: “The evidence supports maintaining the Prom Country brand. Expert observations on brand and marketing make the recommendation even more compelling. Wilsons Promontory remains a key icon underpinning the South Gippsland brand. Research proves that natural beauty—centred on the Prom—is South Gippsland’s core appeal to visitors, residents and many businesses…Prom Country is a brand name with equity in the bank. Changes to brand name would diminish or erase that. There’s no compelling reason to spend this time-earned brand equity on magic beans, particularly when the data shows that strategically the current brand remains right on the money. Finally, the cost of developing or adapting a different brand would be significant. Without strong objective evidence showing that such a change would produce better outcomes, a conservative strategy is preferable.”
Substantial consultation was undertaken to help inform the report, with over 360 submissions received from visitors, prospective visitors, residents, local tourism and business operators, township associations, councillors and council staff, and interviews held with representatives from relevant state government departments and tourism bodies.
The report—funded as a priority from Council’s 2015/16 annual plan—provides 33 recommendations for developing a place-based branding approach to attracting tourism, new residents and business investment into the shire.
Among the other recommendations are:
- Maintain the South Gippsland brand name;
- Clearly delineate where and when Prom Country and South Gippsland are appropriate;
- Use the South Gippsland Shire Council logo for internal audiences only;
- Establish an alternative to the Southern Gippsland brand name;
- Simplify and protect the Prom Country Regional Tourism brand name;
- Maintain the Prom Country Regional Tourism logo;
- Reconsider the Prom Country Regional Tourism tagline;
- Update or establish brand guidelines;
- Adopt and emphasise the brand’s eight key virtues;
- Leverage state campaigns to promote daytrips and short getaways;
- Target repeat visitors;
- Use precisely targeted online campaigns to increase visitation from internationals;
- Refine the Prom Country app;
- Establish a social media strategy;
- Focus on Facebook;
- Encourage TripAdvisor for businesses;
- Actively support a flagship lodge development adjacent to Wilsons Prom;
- Provide workshops to empower community-led groups to develop their own subregional destination brands;
- Co-ordinate sub-regional brands under the Prom Country master brand;
- Allocate visitpromcountry.com.au sub-domains to community-led groups.
- The report can be read in full on the council website.
Council will refer the report to its Economic Development and Tourism Steering Committee or its successor, which will examine the recommendations, advise Council on potential responses to each and develop a proposed implementation program.