Revisiting the 2009 Branding of Norfolk Island. In 2021 The ‘World of Norfolk’ brand has long been superseded but this piece remains an important essay about destination branding, and the importance of community involvement. Mahesh’s work and the platform that he set for Norfolk Island continues to this today. – Editor (2021)
The World of Norfolk branding and the ‘Small world. No small wonder.’ promise connected instantly with potential visitors and locals alike. What was unique about the process leading to their creation was that a Branding Committee representing diverse sections of the community was as closely involved in making it happen as Norfolk Island Tourism, the official custodian of the brand. Highlighting the fact that a destination brand is as much about its proud people as it is about the physical place or professional marketing.
Mahesh Enjeti (SAI Marketing Counsel), the architect of Norfolk Island’s new brand strategy takes the opportunity to share his passion and purpose in creating the brand on its first anniversary.
I chose this title for a reason. More importantly, I agreed to write this piece for a bigger reason. Both will become clearer as you read on. It was just over a year ago that I had visited Norfolk Island to attend NITE (the Norfolk Island Tourism Exchange) 2009 when The World of Norfolk repositioning and the ‘Small world. No Small Wonder.’ brand promise were announced to the tourism industry and the local community. Never before in 35 years of my working life, had I witnessed such all round, spontaneous and whole-hearted endorsement of a brand’s new direction by an entire community.
Why is it so important that the local community embrace the brand, some might ask. After all, a destination brand is all about appealing to the outside visitor. The new positioning was based on extensive research. The concept resonated with potential visitors, but it was important that the industry and the community also got behind the brand (more so in an island with fewer than 2000 people).
Enjoying my return to your world
It was around Easter I was sitting one day wondering how things were going with The World of Norfolk (the holiday season always seems to remind me of this most amazing destination). I called up my dear friend Jodie Williams who I first met in February 2009 in her capacity as the Chair of the Branding Committee. Such is the magic of Norfolk that acquaintances become lasting friendships after you have spent barely a week on the island. I am sure many visitors experience the same feeling and some return year after year.
Jodie shared all the news – a new communication agency, a new visual identity, a new website, a new media campaign, the arrival of a new Tourism General Manager, a new Assembly, a new Tourism Minister and more. With so many changes she suggested it was time for me to place everything in perspective and revive the buzz that we experienced on that momentous day in March, over a year ago. Rob Nisbet, the editor was kind enough to allow me editorial space and freedom in his passionately (and professionally) produced magazine so I could be welcomed back in Norfolk Island once again, on paper if not in person.
Bridging the brand and its expression
I chose the title “WELCOME BACK TO THE WORLD OF NORFOLK” with the intent of connecting the dots – especially, the new ‘WELCOME BACK TO EARTH’ campaign to the underlying repositioning platform (The World of Norfolk) that I had developed. To me, The World of Norfolk was more than just a new name. And, ‘Small world. No small wonder.’ more than a mere tag line, a view that resonated with many in the industry and the community and of course the all-important visitor. It was a new way of presenting Norfolk, a tiny island in the expansive South Pacific that until then seemed to pale into insignificance when compared to bigger, more exotic destinations with greater visibility in the market place. The re-branding had at once transformed a 5km by 8km piece of rock into an exciting world of its own, offering the width of experience and the depth of engagement that many holiday places would pine for (no pun intended).
To develop a communication campaign for a destination such as Norfolk Island is never going to be easy. A world by definition has many dimensions. It will always be a challenge to convey its sense of uniqueness and diversity through any one campaign. Not forgetting the fact that the message needs to be singular and focused. All a campaign can hope to achieve is to encourage potential visitors to look at Norfolk Island in a new light. No more, no less. The WELCOME BACK TO EARTH campaign attempts to pick on a key dimension of The World i.e. Norfolk’s pristine lifestyle and ecological appeal and leverage these as a trigger to motivate people to travel to your world. It has no doubt providedThe World of Norfolk the initial visibility it needed. What matters most is how well it emotionally connects with potential visitors and induces them to look at Norfolk Island differently. Only time and research can tell. Campaigns need longevity and periodic injection of new energy (guided by continual research) to make a lasting impact.
But one campaign or a lone creative execution does not make a brand. Brands are built on the foundation of a promise that is consistently delivered. And, in the case of Norfolk Island, that promise is made and kept by all of you – tourism operators, retailers, politicians, men, women, youth and children and the cows that roam the roads.
Gazing at a crystal of a different kind
My idea of a brand was always influenced by the crystal. Like a crystal, a brand too has many faces. It appeals to different people for different reasons because each person relates to a different face (or facet). In the case of a destination brand, even the same visitor may find different aspects more appealing on separate visits depending on whether they travelled as a couple, a family with kids or part of an affinity social group. Being close to the brand we often fail to see it in all its dimensions.
Taking a step back and turning the crystal around will help us appreciate its full form and brilliance. What’s more interesting about this analogy is that when you pass light through a crystal (a surrogate for the way a consumer sees a brand or a visitor experiences a destination), it always converges at a point outside of the crystal irrespective of where the light is coming from. This focal point (or the brand’s anchor point) is its essence and the fundamental platform on which a brand appeals to people irrespective of which segment they belong to or where they came from. Imagine The World of Norfolk as the crystal, the place and its physical properties, its people and past, language and lifestyle, culture and cuisine and all the other wonderful attributes as its faces, with the promise ‘Small world. No small wonder,’ as its anchor point.
Everything that you do to present or promote the island must emanate from this point irrespective of which face is presented to a visitor. Seen this way, a campaign centred on one dimension is just a ray of light that connects some of the many faces and sharp edges of the crystal to its focal point. To give it any greater weight would be undermining the very foundation on which the brand rests. When thinking brands, I am often reminded of two lines from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, The Brook: “For men may come and men may go but I go on forever”.
Over time, politics might differ, General Managers may move, agencies could churn, campaign ideas will change and tag lines may vary but the essence of a brand is there to stay for a long, long time. The ‘Small world. No small wonder.’ promise goes beyond its literal meaning. Small world is not just about Norfolk Island’s size, it is about the sense of connectedness with visitors, among people, with the past, with farms and ferns, trees and terns, beaches and butterflies, memories and moods in fact with everything around you, i.e. your whole world. No small wonder is about the element of surprise… and a lot more. It is about spontaneity in sharing what you have, being naturally proud about who you are and being able to tell amazing stories about your place, your people and your past.
If experience is the brand, people are its expression
Norfolk Tourism reaches the brand to the outside world. The island and its people express it to those who travel here. Visitor experience can make or break the brand. Imagine 40 000 visitors talking passionately to ten or even five others among their friends, family or workmates about their ‘out of this world’ holiday experience on Norfolk. Even if two of them decide to come in the next four years, you have on average half as many more visitors than before.
Organise yourselves into groups. Workshop ideas on how you can bring to life the brand promise in your own small way. Share with visitors your language and customs, legends and myths, the Norfolk wave and way of life. If the ‘Small world. No small wonder.’ connection can be expressed consistently and collaboratively, creatively and credibly, by everyone on the island, whether they are in the industry or not, it would be more powerful than any communication campaign.
I am often reminded that there are two thousand viewpoints on the island. The ability to think differently is no doubt a strength. But what if the same two thousand people can become unique touch points that animate the brand! Emotion can connect in unimaginable ways and lead to incredible action. One small flicker can kindle an array of two thousand lights!
Image Credit: Robin Nisbet
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in 2899 Magazine V2 Iss2, 2010. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.