An examination of congruency between destination brand identity and image

2017-02-08T03:50:24Z (GMT) by Sirisuthikul, Varintra
This thesis examines the congruency between destination brand identity and brand image. The focus of the study is on Thailand's brand image as perceived by potential Australian travellers, as well as Thailand's brand identity as intended by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The study bridges the concepts of corporate branding in the marketing literature and destination image in the tourism literature and contributes to the field of tourism theoretically and practically. A mixed methods research design employing both qualitative and quantitative approaches is used in this study. The qualitative phase explores the brand development of Thailand and its positioning using in-depth interviews with key TAT executives. Further analysis of how Thailand positions itself in relation to its regional competitors, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong is conducted by means of content analysis. The quantitative phase uses surveys to collect data from samples of Australian travellers and non-travellers to Thailand as well as the TAT in order to compare between Thailand's destination brand image (as perceived by travellers) and brand identity (as projected by the TAT). Overall, results of the study point to 1) the strategic importance of maintaining consistency of its internal brand 2) the need to minimise the gap between destination brand identity (internal brand) and image (external brand) and 3) the challenge of managing a positive and distinctive destination brand. As revealed by the results from the qualitative phase, Thailand's positive image has not been consistently communicated to potential tourists via its official tourism website. Results from the quantitative phase indicate that there are some gaps or incongruence between the brand as perceived by travellers and non-travellers to Thailand versus brand as projected by the TAT. The findings offer important implications for the development of destination marketing strategies. In order to positively improve the brand image of Thailand, destination marketers of Thailand should focus on consistently and positively promoting its destination personality, the symbolic components of its destination brand via its TAT website and other communication channels.