MOBILE, Ala. – In a two-part repositioning effort, the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau (MBCVB) – the official tourism and convention marketing organization for the City, County and the Mobile area hospitality industry – announced a name change and the launch of a new brand. The MBCVB will now be doing business as Visit Mobile. Visit Mobile better defines what the organization’s role and number one responsibility is in the community – attracting visitors to Mobile.
People have understandably often confused the MBCVB with the Mobile Convention Center because the CVB offices are physically located in the building – while the CVB markets the building as they do hotels, attractions and restaurants throughout the entire destination, they do not manage the actual facility. The name change should help clear up confusion with locals, businesses and the media – dozens of other convention & visitors bureaus have made this shift in the last several years with great success. Lastly, it includes a call-to-action within its name. People will understand exactly what Visit Mobile wants them to do, which is to visit Mobile.
PART TWO: LAUNCHING A NEW DESTINATION BRAND
When Al Hutchinson was hired to be the new CEO/President of the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitor Bureau in July of 2014, his first charge was to lead an effort in creating a new destination brand that would really move the needle with the traveling public. “We’ve had several other brands and advertising campaigns over the years, but we felt we needed to develop and tell Mobile’s story in a new, authentic and meaningful-to-the- consumer way.” says Hutchinson. “We had to find that one truth that was believable not only by tourists but one that our locals could own and identify with. It’s not a simple endeavor for any city, but it has been especially challenging for such a historic and diverse city as Mobile. We are certainly a melting pot of different cultures and identifying and deciding upon that one thing was no easy task.”
MOBILE, ALABAMA: BORN TO CELEBRATE offers a strong appeal to travelers’ desire to have fun while on vacation. Born to Celebrate promises emotional well-being: It promises a state of joy, exuberance and vitality. Next, it’s a vow that Mobile can truthfully make. The promise of celebration is one that is true and authentic to the Mobile experience — we are after all, the birthplace of Mardi Gras. This truth – intersected with travelers’ desire to feel especially joyous while on vacation — will form the basis for a strong, strategically deployed and most important, productive, travel marketing campaign.
This year-long process first involved creating a committee of stakeholder organizations who were to be involved in every step of the brand discussion and development process. Gathering and including this group of community organizations to be part of the entire process was unprecedented for Mobile. Participating were: Alabama Restaurant Assoc.– Mobile Chapter City of Mobile; Downtown Mobile Alliance; Mobile Airport Authority; Mobile Attractions Community; Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce; Mobile Area Lodging Association; Mobile Bay CVB; Mobile County Commission and University of South Alabama.
Requests for Information were sent to ten creative groups from Mobile, the state and the East Coast. Ultimately, in a unanimous decision, an East Coast firm, BCF, was selected due in part to the fact that they specialized solely in destination and travel branding and had a track record of creating destination brands that delivered a high return on investment and generated trackable increases in lodging tax and travel-related expenditures for destinations.
The BCF brand team, immediately upon notification that they had been selected, sent a team to Mobile to conduct over 30 on-the-street intercept surveys with locals and visitors during the last weekend of Mardi Gras 2015 (Joe Cain Day and Fat Tuesday, in particular). The next steps involved identifying nearly 100 citizens, business people, hospitality partners and elected officials with whom BCF could conduct one-on- one interviews over a three-day period. Next, an on-line survey was sent to several thousand people in the MBCVB’s consumer database. After the data was collected and analyzed and several rounds of logos, oaths and messages had been reviewed, the brand oath ‘Mobile has a spirited, soulful sense of hospitality’ felt right and the BCF creative team went to work on a new logo and tagline that would support that oath.
BORN TO CELEBRATE, the tagline chosen, echoes the approach Mobilians take to life and hospitality. The color burst visually represents an exuberant, celebratory feeling and while it can mean different things to different people, there’s no question that something joyful is occurring in Mobile.
The new brand will be featured on the Visit Mobile website soon, as well as all business papers, apparel, trade show displays, signage, swag, brochures and visitors guides, social media platforms and all print/digital advertising moving forward. A brand video is under development that will be used as a sales and promotional tool through social media as well as in presentations to convention groups considering Mobile for a meeting location. The Born To Celebrate brand’s integrated advertising campaigns will target leisure visitors – (including cruise passengers coming to Mobile), the travel trade (meeting planners, travel agents and group tour operators) and locals.
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said, “This is an incredible moment for Mobile as we begin to take our place as one of America’s great destination cities. To capture that momentum, we must develop a new brand that can help us tell our story and put a ribbon around the package of outstanding amenities and experiences we have to offer. We applaud the CVB for leading that effort as we invite the world to enjoy our spirited, soulful hospitality. Whether it’s great food, music, history or culture, we truly are ‘Born To Celebrate.’”