Destination Logo to Go?

By Mash Bonigala

Destination branding is a subject that we write about quite often, for good reason. There is no industry in which image is more important. As we have noted before, people no longer go to the same destination year after year. We like to explore new places and see the world in our precious off-time. Most Americans are currently experiencing a dramatic downturn in vacation funds, which makes branding all the more crucial. No one is going to spend precious and limited money on a vacation that turns out to be miserable.

The Dominican Republic’s capital city of Santo Domingo is hoping to encourage visitors with a new tourism logo design to represent the city. Santo Domingo actually has a lot to offer tourists. As the oldest city in the New World, it has all of the history and culture that we love to experience in our world travels. It is exotic but safe. Did we mention that it is an island paradise on par with the Bahamas and Puerto Rico? In addition, the country is actively building infrastructure that will make tourism more attractive, including a large Coral Highway and new hotels.

The new logo design reads “Santo Domingo es Alegria,” which is Spanish for “Santo Domingo is Joy.” This is a little generic, as are the bright colors which are seen in every Caribbean logo that we can think of offhand. The logo is designed to feel spontaneous and hand-painted, which is definitely in its favor. We’re sure a visit there is a very joyous occasion, if only because one does not have to go to work in the morning, but this logo design does little to differentiate the country from its neighbors. “Come and visit us because we are like every other tropical nation in our general vicinity” could be a compelling argument for people who are tired of their current favorite Caribbean vacation spot, but it may not be enough to attract the much larger American market.

An interesting part of this city logo is that the last two letters of the city’s name are placed in different colors so that they create the words ‘to go’. This makes little sense in the context of the logo design. We are sure that the tourism council does not want people to view Santo Domingo as a place that you should pop in and visit for a second before going to your real destination, but this seems to what this element of the logo implies. We suspect that something was lost in translation.

Even so, an attractive but somewhat generic logo design is certainly better than none at all. We will call this a good start and hope that the brand is developed further through other marketing ventures. An interesting note about this initiative: the Dominican people are apparently unused to heavy tourism, so the country has started a program to teach them how to interact with tourists and raise awareness of the importance of tourism to the country’s success. We unfortunately could not find the logo design for this awareness campaign.