Australia's Barrington Coast Name Draws Controversy

July 27, 2018

I see that a new destination name, Barrington Coast”, is proposed for the Mid North Coast in the Australian State of New South Wales. Unfortunately, it’s stalled and now mired controversy. The new name is designed to reflect the region’s two strongest assets, Barrington Tops (forests) and the coastline which includes attractive forests, beaches and coastal communities.

At TDM we’ve found that changing the names of places and destinations can very quickly produce strong emotional and political resistance. Too often prospective visitors get lost in the discussions. Some locals and elected officials might not fully consider the fact that the name must also be meaningful to prospective visitors and it must be conducive to successful destination marketing.

A few years ago, TDM was engaged in the brand planning for Lane County, OR which also features extensive forests, rivers, coast and cities. We soon found that despite decades of active marketing, many people in source markets could not locate Lane County on a map. However, the county’s main city, Eugene, was known nationally. We were fortunate that we were able to generate broad stakeholder support for a new destination name ‘Eugene, Cascades & Coast which emerged after extensive community outreach and consumer research. Since its introduction, the new name is now beloved by locals and visitors alike. ‘Eugene, Cascades & Coast is used for marketing purposes only and has not involved changing any official geographic names.

There are many important criteria to consider when contemplating a destination name change. None is more important than answering the question: “Can people find it on a map or GPS system?”

As Nawal Kant Maharaj stated at the Council Meeting, “Barrington Coast is meaningless”.  It’s never going to be found on a GPS system. Nor are visitors ever going say, “we went to Barrington Coast”. The region’s real destinations, or sub-brands, are the popular communities of Gloucester, Forster, Taree etc. They will remain the key attractors.

The regional name should be designed to function as an ‘umbrella brand name’ to tie together the destinations or sub-brands that are the real reasons people visit the Mid North Coast. This is like the brand name, Procter & Gamble (P&G) which is rarely seen by consumers. But customers are familiar with Gillette, Vicks, Oral-B, Pantene and other prominent products on supermarket shelves.

For our five cents, maybe a simple ampersand might solve the problem: “Barringtons & Coast” region. That way you're not seen to be presenting it as an official geographic name.

Disclosure: I am a former resident of Newcastle and now based in Portland, Oregon

 

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