Branding is not just a way to attract customers and make them buy a specific product or book a certain cruise, it is all about creating a unique image which customers keep in mind (Blain et al., 2005). Hereby it is important to build brand engagement whereby a company is distinguishing one product or service from another (Gunelius, 2015). By giving customers a reason to engage with their brand, more loyalty from the clients will be provided in the future (Keller, 2001). Branding is usually done by keeping the same theme so customers will be reminded to the brand time after time.
Before the time of social media, was the cruise industry mainly reliable on television and printed advertisements when promoting their brand. Nowadays with the introduction of social media like Facebook, YouTube, etc., a connection can be made directly with the customers, whereby more focus can be put on their personal wishes instead of generalizing it to a complete audience (Cole, 2013). In order to realize this a well thought-out multichannel strategy is needed as it is nowadays also for customers way more easy to expose a bad service of a certain company to a wider audience (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
The ‘evolution’ of branding entailed several changes. Brands are not working on persuading customers anymore, but they want to work together with them in order to provide experiences through co-creation like Google for example. Besides, brands nowadays are often shared with stakeholders like for example Android does. With the emergence of virtual reality technology (VR) not only a story is told to the potential customers anymore but the story can also be showed (Case3D, 2015).
A cruise line who is working very intensively on this new way of branding is Disney Cruise Lines. For their 20th anniversary they created an app where customers could find tips for planning their holiday; a customised area where the customers could upload their own photos; games and a virtual countdown until the holiday starts. Furthermore they used social media to tell a story which fits to the image of the brand and they used this tool to tell news to the customers. Interaction was held with the customers by asking parents to send via social media action photos of their kids and to share ‘virtual postcards’ of their dream holiday. Last of all Disney Cruise Lines created brand awareness by asking 3 professional bloggers to stay on their cruise ship and record their experiences which they would broadcast over several social media platforms. With this action they reached out to over 1 million people worldwide (Cole, 2013)!
Besides Disney Cruise Lines who came up with some great inventions, there are and will become way more ways of branding in the future. Think of a 360 degrees representation of the cruise ship whereby potential customers get an idea of how the cruise ship looks like from the inside(Case3D, 2015). Hereby one can also think about VR headsets that can be used on exhibitions whereby the potential customer even gets a virtual 3D image that really gives you the feeling of being on the cruise ship. With the advent of new technologies branding is evaluating to a complete new level whereby customers can feel even more connected to a certain brand than ever before (Benady, 2014).
Benady, D. (2014). How technology is changing marketing. The Guardian. Retrieved on October 6, 2016 from https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/sep/29/technology-changing-marketing-digital-media
Blain, C., Levy, S. E., & Ritchie, J. B. (2005). Destination branding: Insights and practices from destination management organizations. Journal of travel research, 43(4), 328-338.
Case3D (2015). Virutal branding – what can VR do for your brand? Case3D. Retrieved on October 4, 2016 from http://www.case-3d.com/virtual-branding-what-can-vr-do-for-your-brand/
Cole, S. (2013). Cruise industry sailing the seas of social media. Cabi. Retrieved on October 3, 2016 from http://www.cabi.org/leisuretourism/news/23466
Genulius, S. (2015). How to build brand engagement – Part 1. AYTM. Retrieved on October 6, 2016 from https://aytm.com/blog/research-junction/how-to-build-brand-engagement-part-1/#sthash.ovmOnqPF.IEq5plgH.dpbs
Keller, K. L. (2001). Building customer-based brand equity. Marketing Management, 10, 15–19.
Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, England: Pearson.