Branding the ‘Perfect Island’ – NOW! Bali

Do you instinctively know if something is right or possibly more easily feel it when something is wrong? Do you stop and go “hmmm, that ain’t quite right”. Or are you a “shrugger” and just say it’s really not you business? I’m afraid I am very much one of the former. I spend a lot of my time saying, “Why on earth have they done that?” And just as often, “Why have they not fixed that yet?”

I am pretty sure that half of the people coming to Bali are like me too, and get off the plane and into their car or taxi to their hotel, look around and think to themselves, “this isn’t quite what I expected”. They see endless giant billboards stretching into the distance, they see long lines of cars stretching along the roads and more motorcycles than they have ever seen in their lives, and say that this isn’t what the advertising promised. Now, almost certainly when they arrive at their hotel or villa, they will reverse that impression and think that it’s better than expected, because the private sector have to deliver what they promise. 

The criticism implied in that statement is that the public sector does not deliver what it promises, but of course that isn’t true. They don’t actually promise anything. There is no-one from the local government saying: “You have a right to see the mountains and the fields, so I will ban giant billboards.” There is no-one in the transport and traffic divisions saying “Hey, don’t worry, I am going to get rid of the ridiculous, mind-numbing traffic jams, blocked streets and total lack of parking”. There is no-one on a campaign to put everyone on electric buses and ban noisy, polluting motorcycles. But there should be. 

The other half of the arriving passengers have all been here before and on their much anticipated return are all saying “They really haven’t fixed that by now? Oh well I guess I didn’t really expect it. It’s Bali”.  Which statement makes you sadder? The fact that we haven’t fixed what we should have or the fact that our loyal supporters have accepted our weaknesses? 

So here is the crux of the matter: why is it that we in the private sector create brands that we try, with every fibre of our being, to deliver in the best possible way every time to everyone, while the public sector don’t even create an inspirational brand, never mind try to deliver it. So, they do not seem to have a vision of that “perfect island” that they feel dedicated to build and maintain. But they should.

 A brand has two dimensions which are equally important: the external one which we project to our target markets and the internal one which we try to get all the stakeholders to work together to deliver. So, when we have set our minds to create that “perfect island” we have to figure what that is and how to deliver it. 

I can assure you that even the worst ”shruggers” in the world don’t include giant billboards, traffic jams, noisy motorcycles, zero parking, waste on the beaches and plastic in the water their definition of a perfect island. So why are those in charge not trying, with every fibre of their being, to eliminate all these things? So that everyone who arrives here looks around and says ”now this is exactly what I dreamed Bali would be like”.  Sadly I don’t know but I am not going to stop asking. 

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G Speirs, OBE, is the Publisher of NOW! Magazines. He has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for the last 25 years. He started both NOW! Bali and NOW! Jakarta as each region’s preferred community magazine.

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