Iva Belaj Šantić, TZ Hvar: Joint promotion of the island is one of the most important activities of the joint brand strategy

Hvar - joint brand strategy, slogan, visual identity and brand video.

Author  Goran Rihelj

November 17, 2023

At the end of September this year, the tourist boards of the island of Hvar presented a joint brand strategy, slogan, visual identity and brand video.

New slogan "Discover, follow and be the light” and the new brand story call for its discovery. The author of the new visual identity is an award-winning art director Maja Bagić Barić. The inspiration for the logo was agave lace, one of Hvar's assets inscribed on UNESCO's list of world intangible heritage. 

Read more information about co-branding at: The tourist boards of the island of Hvar presented a joint brand strategy

It is the most extensive branding of a Croatian island, the goal of which is to connect cities and municipalities through a common story and present the island as a unique destination. And all this is a concrete result of the Agreement on the Association of Tourist Boards from the Island of Hvar.

By the way, when we talk about tourism branding, it is quite logical from any perspective, from promotional, branding, communication to quality content that is much greater in the entire region or island, than in just one destination, that Croatia brands natural tourist regions. And especially for the islands to be one tourist brand according to the market. 

Because the island of Hvar is the first and primary brand for all tourists, this is especially obvious since it is an island. Like any island. How we will organize the system from the inside, to make it as efficient and organized as possible, is for another discussion. But according to the market, quite naturally and logically, according to all the rules of the profession, one island must be one brand. 

In a conversation with Ivo Belaj Šantić, director of the Tourist Board of the town of Hvar, I learn the wider story behind the joint branding of the island of Hvar. 

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This is one of the first major and significant results of the Agreement on the Association of Tourist Boards on the Island of Hvar. How satisfied are you with the results? What are the reactions of the tourist sector on Hvar? 

"The association agreement was signed in 2020 and was started by the previous and current directors of local tourist boards (TZG Stari Grad, TZ Vrbovska, TZO Jelsa, TZO Sućuraj, TZG Hvar), all with the aim of jointly implementing one or more activities aimed at developing tourist products and promoting the destination.The joint promotion of the island is one of the most important activities on which we will base the continuation of this cooperation.

One island - a thousand stories, that's how I would describe the task that the agency Fabular received through designing the branding of the island of Hvar. Time will tell if they successfully presented the best that Hvar has to offer and what connects us. For now, the reactions are divided, but I think that we really need to focus on the fact that this is the beginning of joint projects and that this is only the first of a thousand stories."

According to the Agreement, "the joint implementation of one or more activities aimed at developing a tourist product and promoting the destination" is defined. With this branding, you have made a step forward, what are your further plans in the implementation of joint projects? Are you thinking a step further in the context of combining other activities, such as: Wine evenings on the entire island of Hvar - every weekend in a different destination... and others.

"Continuation of cooperation will certainly go in the direction of promotional activities not only at fairs but also through special presentations of the island of Hvar, and in 2024 we will put emphasis on joint outdoor projects. Combining all activities is more difficult to do since we have enough emitting markets as well as the profile of guests different, especially when it comes to the town of Hvar and the rest of the island.

But on the other hand, it is precisely these differences that we must use and present as our advantage, because with them we are in fact expanding the tourist product, which is not the same in all destinations, yet is 'within reach' of every visitor to the island. Likewise, we invite guests who did not initially choose another destination to discover another part of the island and get to know a different side of the island, a different story."

What is key is communication and branding of the island of Hvar to the market, that is the meaning of branding. In my opinion, it is crucial that you also have a joint website, social networks, joint budgets for the promotion of the platform... This does not mean shutting down tourist boards (TZ) or similar, I personally think that the system of tourist boards should be strengthened, but precisely about branding as one island on all levels according to the market. 

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"The shared website is already active on the domain lightofhvar.com for now it functions as a 'landing page' with common promotional materials and leads to individual destinations, but in the coming period I believe that we will technically, logistically and financially go in the direction of strengthening it, i.e. enriching it with content.

A guest who stays in the town of Hvar for more than 2 days also visits other places on the island, as well as someone who has chosen another place on the island, comes to the town of Hvar at least for a few hours, so there is a need for the user to be able to access all information."

Content of the island of Hvar in one place: it is in everyone's interest that tourists see and experience the entire island of Hvar, and you can offer more content together than just one TZ. Guests do not see invisible borders between cities, counties... Have you thought in that direction and can we expect progress in that segment as well? That would certainly be the first such case in Croatia? 

"There is room for cooperation and joint projects, as well as the will to start realizing them, and we can strengthen the existing ones that each destination already has separately, through joint promotion. An interactive web calendar with a display of all island events in one place has already been designed by the Alliance of Platforms, but maybe is precisely the common domain of all TZs, a place where we can better present Platforma's project.

The island of Hvar is unique not only for its beauty, but also for the challenges posed by logistical and technical issues, and too much campanilism can be an aggravating circumstance, but I believe that we, not only the leading people of the tourist boards, but all stakeholders in the tourism offer of the island of Hvar, common goal - and that is to present in the best possible way all the cultural and historical wealth, traditions, natural beauty, gastronomy, skills and people that make Hvar regularly on the lists of TOP destinations in the world." 

Joint branding of destinations on the islands should be the standard, and I hope that the example of Hvar will be followed by other islands. I emphasize again, primarily through market presence, through all communication channels.

In the end, Belaj Šantić concludes that cooperation can certainly be strengthened in all segments, not only the tourist offer, but also the appearance of the "škoj" abroad in all segments, and as one example is the introduction of an additional catamaran line Split-Stari Grad, whose petition was signed by all islanders.

Author  Goran Rihelj

November 17, 2023