Three tips to put a name that works for a tourism destination

This article was written by Antonio Pezzano, Expert in Tourism Policies and Destination Marketing

This post is dedicated to those tourism destinations which are looking for an efficient name to promote themselves.

In the collective imagination, Visa is just a credit card. For this reason, it is also the classical example of branding linked to naming: choosing a name which is alone able to communicate the service. But not so many people know that, until 1976, Visa was called Bankamericard. This card was launched in 1958 by the Bank of America with the vision of giving people the freedom to travel around the world with their own money. In other words, having a credit card was like having a tourism visa.

The Bank of America, in its DNA, has the capability to choose efficient names. It adopted this name back in 1930, because the management from back then was aiming to provide banking services to every American citizen, and it was difficult to do that if your name was Bank of Italy. Yes, it is true, at first, the Bank of America was called Bank of Italy. This bank was established at the beginning of the 20th century and was opened by Gianni Amodeo, who came from Sicily, and who had detected a big business opportunity in the financial market of that period. He opened a small office where he granted loans to Italian immigrants in the USA who usually didn’t feel accepted or perceived as reliable by other banks. Bank of Italy, just with its name, communicated a sense of trust to all the new immigrants coming from Italy.

Destinations, “apparently”, can’t choose among many names. Actually, this is not completely true if we consider how frequently some supra-municipal geographic areas change their names according to the tourism policies reorganizations. It is quite frequent to hit promotional tools where the brand gets confused with the company name. For example, come and visit the Tourism District of Lakes, Mountains and Valleys of this or that Destination! Or also, discover the Wonderful Lands of Mars! The brand and the business name are two different things, that sometimes they can coincide. The selection of the brand which will be used to promote a destination has to answer three questions that you need to ask yourselves about every (geographic) market you are going to promote in. One: which is the geographic image of my destination (how and where tourists place us on the maps)? Two: which is the term that people enter to search our destination on the Internet or in tourism agencies? Three: why are people looking for us? Three simple questions, but they require a big effort, as we can’t think that the world revolves around us.


The inspiration for this post comes from the book One plus One Equals Three: A Masterclass in Creative Thinking by Dave Trott.

Antonio Pezzano advises public bodies and tourism organisations in designing and realising policies and projects which are able to generate economic value. His role is to provide figures and facts to the decision-makers.
He is currently and external expert in tourism and environment at the Agency for Territorial Cohesion in Italy.