National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
Partnership header Roundtable discussion in a conference room setting
Park/Destination Branding and Brand Product Merchandising

Branding is a means to establish an easily-recognizable graphic identity or "brand" for your park or destinations within your park or for your organization. It conveys the essence of how you would like the public to perceive your park. A branding strategy is a plan that uses logos, images, language and media designed exclusively for your park or non-profit partner to reach people through publications, signs, banners, annual reports, letterheads, merchandise, Web sites and other means. This is a logical extension of the NPS Messaging Program that NPS adopted several years ago to reinforce a consistent brand for NPS.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Park and other park units have successfully implemented branding strategies to: 1) build a strong unifying graphic identity for their entire park, and 2) raise public awareness of key park components.

A central unifying brand image should articulate the core values of your park, resonate with the audience you want to reach, and create awareness and instant recognition in differentiating your park from others. It should convey the essence of your park.

Branding also offers a revenue-generating commodity through a product line of brand image-bearing merchandise opportunities that extend park awareness. Merchandise can include posters, T-shirts, mugs, water bottles, calendars, note cards, magnets, bottled water available in the park and retail venues beyond the park and through on-line merchandising. Post purchase, the use of these products provides increased visibility for your park brand(s) throughout the community.

Developing a brand campaign takes time and resources. It is well worth the effort if done properly. A strong brand can:

  • Communicate your park's value, function and uniqueness in an efficient, effective manner;
  • Grow the number of your visitors, volunteers, board members, and potential funders;
  • Motivate your "audiences" to spread the word for you; and
  • Create revenue streams from the sales of the brand bearing merchandise.

Here are prime examples of parks that have successfully implemented branding strategies:

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