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Aditya Shankar Mishra1

Abstract Nowadays, many destinations are branding themselves to attract tourists and travellers. Tourists infuse money in these economies and thus all these destinations get benefitted by economic growth as well as job creations. But like products and services, these destinations too are vying on similar attributes and they all are look-alike. Hong Kong too is in the same race. The objective of this paper is to find out the attributes, which differentiate Hong Kong from other destinations. A differentiated destination brand identity of Hong Kong will eventually help the stakeholders of Hong Kongs tourism industry to position themselves on unique attributes. Kapferers Brand Identity Prism is taken as the approach to establish Hong Kongs destination brand identity. Kapferers Brand Identity Prism is an effective tool to build and communicate the brand identity across various platforms.

Travel and Tourism has now become a global industry, and according to the World Tourism Organazation (WTO), it is one of the fastest growing industry. It helps nations to enhance their GDP and to societies, it helps in generating employment opportunities. It also helps the country to popularize its culture and economy to attract more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Therefore, this industry gradually has become a major source for the countries to enhance their image and in turn getting benefitted by the inflow of money in terms of investments and tourist spending. But in todays highly competitive market each and every country is trying hard to attract more and more tourists to their countries. Therefore now the countries have started using the marketing strategies which so far were being used to promote other products and services. One of the most important strategies is Branding. Countries have started branding themselves to have competitive edge over each other. A strong Country Brand helps the host country to position itself on the mind of tourists and it also protects from any kind of bad name or disaster ( for example the slogan I Love New York drew back the tourists to this city after september 11 attack on World Trade tower ). Kotler et al. (1999) has defined place marketing as a place planning procedure concerning the satisfaction of the needs of target markets. It could be successful when it satisfies two main parameters, (1) The enterprise and residents satisfaction from purchase of goods and services that the place provides (2) the satisfaction of the expectations of the potential target martkets . Keller (2005) has said that the geographic locations like products and services can

Research Scholar, Icfai Business School, Hyderabad, India, E-mail: aditya.s.mishra@gmail.com

also be branded which will make people aware about the location and then will help in growing tourists visit and business as well. The branding of places has evolved in different trends. Kavaratzis (2005) has talked about the different trends of evolution of this concept. Ealier around 2000,the concept of nation branding was only within the circle of marketing consultants who were also the advisors to their respective national governments. Their objective was to use the positive effect of the nation branding to attratct tourists and foreign investments but they did not know and they did not have the proper skills to design and implement the branding campaigns and strategies. After 2002,the destination marketer started realising that the destinations images are being judged during the first hand experience of the tourists during their visit. They realized that this branding effort will not only help in attracting more tourist and foreign investments,it will also play a critical role in different community development work.Because this branding effort needs the cordination among different agncies and organizations of a particular destination. The most important trend came after this , when the destination marketers and the academicians started using the different techniques,strategies and models for the destination branding which were only being used for the products and services. The elements of the corporate branding were used to express the destination brands. Fan,Ying. (2006) has given the difference between Nation Branding and Product Branding. A product brand offers product or some tangibles but nation brand doesnot offer anything like that. The product brand is well defined and they are simple and clear while the nation brands are difficult to define and very vague to express. The obejective behind nation branding is to enhance the nations image on the basis of attributes which will be purely emotional, while the objective behind the product branding is to increase the sales and profits of the company and attributes can be anything like functional or emotional. The major difference is in terms of ownership and target audience. In case of nation brands,the ownership is in multiple hands and has different stakeholders and the target audience is diverse and hard to define while the product brands have sole owner and very well defined target market. But there are various similarities also, on the basis of those Ying Fan has suggested that the destination marketers can use the strategies similar to product branding. He says that, before launching any marketing campaign regarding nation branding the target market should be defined. Just like products the attributes should be unique on which a country wants to position itself. The nation brand should act as a umbrella brand like a corporate brand. Like product branding the nation branding too has different kind of media for promotion. Kotler and Gertner (2002) talks about the segmentation of the target market depending on different attractions. Attractions may include natural beaurty, adventure, history, culture etc. To be successful in getting competitive advantage, the country should be very much clear in their promotion about the attractions and on the other hand the tourists should have the clear image of the benefit they will be getting after visiting that destination. On the basis of extensive litearature review, Baker,Michael J.(2007) has found that in the destination marketing, the image and identity of a particular country play an important role in making a country unique among various alternatives. He has emphasized on the self analysis

by the stakeholders of the destination, to understand and build a better and unique destination brand identity in this highly competitive market. He has divided thirty three critical success factors among four stages for the strategic destination brand building process. Second and third phases of this process consists of Identity development,Image creation and communication of the vision to the target tourists.

Literature Review
While Jenkins,Olivia H (1999) has highlighted the importance of the destination brand image.the author has defined the destination brand image as the expression of all objective knowledge,impressions,prejudice,imaginations,and emotional thoughts an individual and a group might have of a particular place. The evolution of destination brand image too has played major role in destination marketing. The destination image is important because it influences both the decision making process of the potential tourists as well as the visiting tourists experience. The destination image is very important in destination selection process by tourists. But,Prideaux and Cooper (2002) say that the destination marketing should not only be there at the demand side to increase the number of visitors but it should also be at the supply side so that there can be better coordination between different destination marketing stakeholders and their number should also increase. But the authors say that the demand side destination marketing is still an under researched area. Janonis et al.(2007) has defined brand identity as a concept,including brand uniqueness,meaning purpose,values and individuality. It provides an opportunity for the company to achieve competitive advantage on the basis of the unique brand identity. The brand identity builds up on the inner values of the brand. The authors have analyzed different brand identity models and reached on conclusion that the multidimensional structure of the brand identity has six to twelve elements. After going through different litearatue,they found that the efficient brand positioning fills the gap between the brands identity and perceived brand image. Florak,Magdalena.(2005) and Anholt,Simon.(2002) both have argued that the core brand identity is the strength of a country brand . A proper brand identity building not only builds a competitive advantage,it also effects the population of the country itself. Like a company the brand identity building affects the morale,team spirit and unity of the stakeholders. The brand identity building process is the identification of a nation as well as the positioning on the mind of potential tourists. Finally Konecknik,Maja. et al. (2007) in the process of studying the destination brand identity building for Slovenia have analyzed three very important and widely accepted models of the brand identity. Generally the tourism destinations are being seen from the demand driven perspective while creation of global brand identity from the supplier side is very necessary for the competitive advantage. They have reviewed three models (1) Kapferers Prism (2) De Chernatonys Vision and Culture Model (3) Aaker and Joachimsthalers Brand Leadership Model.

Among these three established models the Brand Identity Prism is the tool to understand the different elements of the brand. In terms of the destination branding it will help to identify the different elements of a nation which eventually makes it as a country brand. That means what is the Brand Identity of a country as the Brand. This model answers the queries related to the Brand Identity and not of the Brand Image. Brand Identity answers Who are you? and Brand Image answers What Are You? (Keller, 2005). Here, this paper discusses the Brand Identity through the Brand identity Prism proposed by Kapferer (1997). This Brand Identity prism is widely used for product and services. Ponnam (2007) has used it for explaining the brand identity of the Kingfisher Airlines. Mulky (2001) has used it for the Indian tea industry. The Brand Identity Model is a hexagonal prism and has six facets. Each facet represents a specific character of the brand. The prism is divided by a line in two halves. The facets on the left side of the prism denote to the Externalization (the attributes which are well conspicuous or visible) and the facets on the right side represent Internalization (the attributes which are not visible easily). The Constructed source represents the sender or the organization. The constructed receiver represents the consumers. Any type of communication necessarily should have sender and a receiver. Both physique and personality of a brand help define the sender and build an image of the sender of the brand communication. Reflection (How the customer wishes to be seen as a result of using the brand) and Self-image (The inner relationship or our understanding of selves due to our attitudes towards a particular brand) both help define the recipient. The remaining two facets, relationship and culture, bridge the gap between sender and recipient.

Hong Kong as Tourism Brand

Hong Kong is a very small sized island of area 1,095 sq. Kms.It can be divided in four regions, Hong Kong ( 80 sq. Kms. ),Kowloon Peninsular ( 40 sq. Kms. ),New Teritorries ( 794 sq. Kms. ) and the remote islands ( 175 sq. Kms. ). The country is surrounded by the deep waters and with its wide harbors protected by mountains in the north and south. These make Hong Kong favorable as a passing point for ships. Its geographical location between the Taiwan Straits, the South China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean make it a strategic channel for sea traffic in Asia and the world. The idea of branding Hong Kong was first coceptualized in 1996. At that time, Hong Kong was being given back to China by Britain, and there was some anxiety in the international fraternity that Hong Kong might loose its distict identity after reunification. The Government undertook the task of making sure such a scenario would never take place, and policies were framed to define Hong Kongs role as a Special Administrative Region of China, as well as an international hub for finance, trade, investment, tourism, transport and communications. Brand Hong Kong (BrandHK) was launched in 2001. It is a strategic programme designed to promote Hong Kong as Asias world city. Hong Kongs positioning as Asias world city is founded on the basis that Hong Kong is where one can see the effect of east as well as west.Britsh rule before 1997 gave this country a western look ,at the same time mainland

Chinas proximity maintains the eastern effect.It is dynamic, vibrant and cosmopolitan. It is a business,dining and cultural hub with world-class infrastructure . Hong Kong's Economic and Trade Offices all over the world as well as the local organizations have carried the Brand Hong Kong message to the target business and government audiences overseas and in the Mainland. Brand Hong Kong is now very much accepted at home and around the world.

Hong Kong Brand Identity

As per earlier discussion in the paper, the Brand Identity Prism has six facets (Figure-1). We will see how these different facets apply in case of the Hong Kong country brand.
Brand Identity Prism

Source- Ponnam (2007) Brand Physique- The physique is the first stage in strategic brand building process. According to Kapferer (1997), it says about, what the brand does or what is the central purpose of the brand. Physique identifies what the brand is all about, and how does the brand look alike. Physical appearance is closely related to the brand prototype denoting the quality of brand. These are the specific traits without which the brand will only look like name. These characteristics should be common in every promotional strategy. Physique is like the backbone of the brand. In case of Hong Kong, There is the free movement of goods and capitals which helped it to become international centre for business and finance. The Hong Kong dollar is freely convertible and there is no restriction on the amount of money to bring or take out of Hong Kong. Gold, silver, securities and real estate are being traded freely without any foreign

restrictions. International investors are free to invest in debt instruments issued in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of the worlds most open and externally oriented economies as its trade to GDP ratio is 404%. The US based Heritage Foundations Index of economic freedom has been ranking Hong Kong as number one since it started publishing in 1995. Despite being part of China, it has maintained its own identity as the world city. Apart from defence and external affairs, Hong Kong has the autonomy in all other areas. It is a successful example of one country, two systems. Laws, currency, taxation system, immigration, customs, police, way of life all are different from the mainland China. It has separate membership of international forums like APEC, WTO etc. Chinese and English both are the official languages here. As it has been seen that Hong Kong is free, autonomous and independent in economy, trade, administration, investment and culture, therefore, Free and Autonomy can be established as the physique of Hong Kong country brand. Brand Personality- The second element of the brand identity prism is Brand Personality, which tells about the character and attitude of the brand. In this process of brand communication, each brand has its own personality just like individuals, and it remains constant throughout. Brand Personality can be defined as the specific set of meanings which describe the "inner" characteristics of a brand. These meanings are constructed by a consumer based on behaviour exhibited by personified brands or brand characters. Customers choose those brands which match with their own personalities (Aaker and Fournier, 1995). These are the traits which will describe the personality of a brand if it were human. Hong Kong is very progressive in economic as well infrastructural development. They have built a world class infrastructure. It is the regional corporate hub having offices of 6612 overseas and mainland Chinese companies till June 2008 with growth of 2.7% on last year.2 Out of this total 3382 serve as the regional headquarters for those companies. It is also a regional arbitration centre handling more cases than Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Korea together. At the end of 2008, 68 of worlds top 100 banks were operational in Hong Kong. It has world class telecommunications infrastructure. Hong Kong has more number of mobile phones than its population. In terms of market capitalisation, the Hong Kong stock exchange is third largest in Asia and seventh largest in the world. Its international airport is the busiest in the world for international freight and fifth busiest in terms of international passenger traffic. Its port is the one of the worlds busiest container port. Therefore it is the Asias most preferred logistics and supply chain base. Around 270000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for the 98% of business and 50% of the private work force showing the enterprising nature of the residents. According to 2007 data3, Hong Kong is the second largest FDI (US$ 54.3 Billion) recipient nation. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is expanding rail and road network continuously. New tourist attraction centres like Disneyland and West Kowloon Cultural District are being built. Its economy is

2 3

http://www.brandhk.gov.hk/en/#/en/facts/factsheets/hk_glance.html (Dated:- December 2008) http://www.brandhk.gov.hk/en/#/en/facts/factsheets/hk_glance.html (Dated:- December 2008)

continuously expanding. Following are few statistics showing the progressive nature of the Hong Kong (Table-1). Table-1 Year Current Account Balance (HK$ Million) 2004 12,91,923 13,25,091 6.8 1,22,512 2005 13,82,590 14,18,935 5.6 1,56,933 2006 14,75,357 15,18,541 4.8 1,78,166 2007 16,15,431 16,15,431 4.0 1,99,160 2008 16,76,929 16,53,636 3.6 2,37,628 Source- http://www.info.gov.hk/hkma/eng/statistics/msb/index.htm Nominal GDP (HK$ Million) Real GDP (HK$ Million) Unemployment Rate (% of total population) Foreign Currency Reserves(US$ billion) 123.6 124.3 133.2 152.7 182.5

Based on these facts, it can be established that the personality traits of the Hong Kong country brand are Progressive, International, Enterprising and Innovative. Brand Culture- According to Kapferer (1997), the brand culture means the set of values, the brand posses. It refers to the basic principles governing the brand in its outward signs (product, logos or communication). It threads the brand with the firm. Culture plays the essential role in brand differentiation as it indicated about the moral values attached with its goods and services. This feature helps identifying the strongest positioning based on the differentiation made by the set of values represented by the culture. Figure-2 : Brand Hong Kong Logo The Brands dragon image represents Hong Kong's link with a historical and cultural icon. The flowing lines of the dragon are the mirror of Chinese calligraphy. The dual expression of the dragon image i.e. in English as well as in Chinese shows a combination of modernity and antiquity and also symbolises the meeting of East and West that makes Hong Kong so special. The dragon's smooth, fluid shape shows a sense of movement and speed, representing Hong Kongs everchanging character.
Source: - www.brandhk.gov.hk (Dated:-December 2008)

The dragon images dynamism suggests Hong Kong's passion for the daring and innovation, showing a can-do spirit. Hong Kong has a rich variety of arts festivals and cultural events which features local and international performers and artists. It takes care of all tastes ranging from the premier arts event, the annual Hong Kong Arts Festival, to the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Le French May Arts Festival, the International Arts Carnival and the New Vision /Worlds

Cultures Arts Festival. With its unique blend of East and West, old and new, modern city and natural scenery, Hong Kong has become one of Asias most popular tourist destinations. From premium shopping malls to low cost local markets, ancient Chinese temples to glasscurtained skyscrapers, neon-lit streets to soothing countryside, Hong Kong is a city of contrasts and colour. HKSAR is expanding its rail network from existing 210 km to over 260 km by 2015. Currently six new rail lines are being constructed like the Kowloon Southern Link, the West Island Line, the Kwun Tong Line Extension, the South Island Line, the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Sha Tin to Central Link. Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge construction is starting from 2010. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre has been opened in this year, which has in a total of 90,000 square metres of rentable space. West Kowloon Cultural District a major cultural hub will be developed on a prime waterfront site in West Kowloon. Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Development Plan will be started by 2013.4 Therefore on the basis of the above observations, we can summarize combination of modernity and antiquity, ever-changing, passion for daring and innovation as the brand culture of the Hong Kong country brand. Brand Relationship- Just like the relationship between the consumer and service provider, brands too have the relationship with the customers. According to Kapferer (1997), brands are supposed to be the crux of the transactions and exchanges between the consumers and the service providers. It represents the steps taken towards the customer satisfaction or the different elements of the customer relationship management. Hong Kong is situated at the heart of Asia, it is within five hours flying time of more than half the worlds population, and is the principal international gateway to the Mainland of China the worlds most populous consumer market and largest manufacturing base. The HKSAR Government runs a Hospitable Hong Kong campaign to develop a strong hospitality culture in Hong Kong. A programme, called Hong Kong Young Ambassador Scheme, is in place for training young people to be polite and helpful to visitors. More than 1,500 young people have already been trained so far. As part of the campaign, the Tourism Board has collaborated with travel agencies, hotels, and retailers in executing a series of activities to improve service quality and customer care. Travel agents of Hong Kong, have to obey a licensing regime prescribed by the Travel Agents Ordinance. The Registrar of Travel Agents issues licences to qualified and able travel agents only. In addition, the Travel Industry Council (TIC) enforces codes of conduct for travel agents and issues directives to ensure they follow proper practices. It also handles complaints against member travel agents. There were 1,480 licensed travel agents at years end. A Travel Industry Compensation Fund (TICF) provides payments of up to 90 per cent of the loss of tour fares to outbound tourists in the event of a default by a travel agent.

http://www.brandhk.gov.hk/en/#/en/facts/factsheets/hk_glance.html (Dated:- December 2008)

Hong Kong is one of the worlds most immigration-friendly cities. Travellers from around 170 countries and territories have visa-free access to the city for stays of between seven to 180 days. Mainland China in 2003, introduced The Individual Visit Scheme (IVS), permitting citizens of 49 Mainland cities to visit Hong Kong on their own instead of in groups, has become very popular. More than nine million Mainlanders visited Hong Kong under it in 2008, which is 57 per cent of all Mainland arrivals.5 After observing above facts about Hong Kong, We can summarize Proximity, Hospitable, and Immigration friendly as the Brand Relationship attributes of Hong Kong Country Brand. Brand Reflection- According to Kapferer (1997), Reflection is the perceived target with which the customer wants to be identified with. It shows the way, how a customer should be reflected as he/she wishes to be seen as the result of using a brand. In short it talks about the consumers perception about him after consuming a particular brand. In the marketing communications towards its potential tourists, Hong Kong Tourism stakeholders have kept in mind the requirements and needs of the different segments. Like for Indian tourists they have focussed on providing fun for all the family members because average Indian wants the vacation for his/her full family not for individual only. The HKSAR is promoting Hong Kong as the hub of MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions). Over 300 major MICE events take place each year at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), Asia World-Expo and other venues. As it is already the meeting point of East and West, Hong Kong is promoting its multiculturalism and contrast in its marketing communications. It has the modern entertainment facilities for the youth also, like Disneyland, the beautiful sea beaches, the neon-lit streets etc. Organising of many sports events like International Rugby Tournaments, Co-hosting of Olympics with Beijing and the adventurous sports also helped to attract the youth segment.

http://www.brandhk.gov.hk/en/#/en/facts/factsheets/travel_and_tourism.html (Dated:- December 2008)

Source: - 2009 Business Overview by Mr. Anthony Lau (Executive Director, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Dated February 20, 2009)

Therefore these observations point the reflection of Hong Kong on consumers mind as the multicultural, business centre and cultural hub, youthful. Brand Self-Image It is the sixth and last facet of the brand identity prism. It complements the reflection of the brand. According to Kapferer (1997), self image is the customers own attribute, which they also want to see in the brand. Consumers want the brands attributes coinciding with their own attributes. In case of Hong Kong, based on the above discussions and the data available, we can see that the average age of the inbound tourists are approx. 37 years and around 55% of the total tourists are coming here for vacations and above 20% are here for business and meeting purposes.6 Therefore it is proved that tourists having youthfulness, cosmopolitan, vibrant and business orientations are being attracted by Hong Kong country brand. Hence we can summarize these attributes as the self image of Hong Kong travellers and tourists.

Thus we have observed that, how can a country brand like Hong Kong explains its different elements of brand identity. It will help their tourism stakeholders to identify the unique attributes of their country and how to go to brand positioning and promotions on these attributes. We can summarize the different facets of Hong Kong country brand on Kapferers brand Identity prism as follows:-

http://partnernet.hktb.com/pnweb/jsp/comm/index.jsp?pageContent=/jsp/rso/rso_news.jsp&charset=en (Visitor Statistics Reports till December 2008)


Sender Physique
Freest Economy,Autonomy


hhh Culture Relationship

Proximity,Hospitable,Immigra -tion friendly Combination of modernity and antiquity,Everchanging,Passion for daring and innovation

Multicultural,Business Centre,Cultural Hub,Youthful

Self Image
Youth,Vibrant,Business Icon ,Cosmopolitan


We have found out the attributes,important for Hong Kong Tourism,but if the data of visitors will be analysed then we can also find the regions or countries, which are the most profitable segments (in terms of days of stay and per capita spending).

Days of Stay vs Per Capita Spending of Tourists

Per Capita Spending in Honkong Dollar 5,353 5,272 5,088 5,066 4,910 4,440 4,247 0 0.5 2.17625 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 2.4475 3.1975 3.33125 3.465 3.505 4.04125 Taiwan South and South East Asia North Asia Americas Europe Africa and Middle East Australia, NZ and S Pacific Mainland China

Number of Days of Stay


The last graph shows us the analysis, on Number of Days of Stay by visitors Vs. Per Capita Spending.Dwyer,Larry and Forsyth,Peter (2008) has used this parameter among others to identify the profitable segments for a countrys tourism and economy.This graph indicates the importance of visitors coming from mainland China.

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