8 great uses of travel photography in branding

These beautiful ads make great use of imagery to cast tourist destinations in an enticing light.

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Travel photography plays a huge part in tourism branding, and that’s not surprising. When it comes to a pristine beach, natural panorama or striking cityscape, ‘show’ will always be more powerful than ‘tell’. 

But with every travel poster, billboard and brochure featuring beautiful imagery, how do you make your branding stand out against the competition? It becomes a case, not just of choosing the right imagery, but crafting a design that will truly make it shine.

These eight examples of tourism branding all make great use of travel photography. If you’ve seen other impressive tourism campaigns, we’d love to hear about them too: please share the links in the comments below. 

01. Mexico

Ogilvy’s campaign cast Mexico in a whole new light

With Mexico becoming associated with drug cartels, violence and kidnapping in the world’s media, its tourist board wanted to promote more positive side to the country and go beyond the stereotypes - both good and bad. So it launched a campaign showing imagery most people wouldn’t connect with Mexico, based on the tagline ‘The Place You Thought You Knew’.

CMO Gerardo Llanes worked with Ogilvy on the campaign, which highlights activities and attractions beyond Cancun, such as underground rivers and swimming with whale sharks. The key to its success was keeping things simple, with breathtakingly photography doing most of the talking. You can learn more about the campaign here

02. Australia

Tourism Australia’s walkabout-themed campaign put Outback landscapes front and centre

Tourism Australia wanted to capitalise on the unique perspective of its most creative son, director Baz Luhrmann, so it hired him to produce two cinematic commercials telling the stories of visitors’ ‘walkabouts’. 

The accompanying print and digital campaign, produced by DDB, allowed these stories to be expanded, focusing on how people’s Australian experiences have changed their outlook on life. Eye-catching photography from each state and territory helped convey the message with powerful visual force. You can see more of the campaign here.

03. India

Ogilvy’s ‘Incredible India’ made the Asian nation look more vibrant than ever

India is known for its colourful and vibrant scenes, but Ogilvy’s recent tourism campaign made it look more visually enticing than ever. With the tagline ‘Incredible India: Find what you seek’, print and outdoor ads centred around a series of arresting images that evoked a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world’s biggest democracy. You can see more of the campaign here.

04. Jordan 

The ‘ExtraJORDANary’ campaign conveys a real sense of scale

Jordan may not be top of everyone’s bucket list, but it’s home to some of the world’s most historically important and visually spectacular sites, including Petra, the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum and Aqaba. So right now, the Jordan Tourist Board (JTB) is running a campaign with the tagline ‘ExtraJORDANary’, to encourage more visitors to experience these ancient wonders. There’s a real scale to both the imagery and the typography in these ads, conveying an appropriate sense of confidence and grandeur. You can learn more about the campaign here.

05. Wyoming

BVK combined panoramic landscapes with lighthearted messaging to promote Wyoming tourism

Cleverly combining cinematic visuals with poetic language, who could resist this evocative tourism campaign for the mountainous US state of Wyoming? Four print ads created by Milwaukee agency BVK combine awe-inspiring shots of panoramic landscapes with a lighthearted yet alluring message. You can see more of the campaign here.

06. Greece

This ad cleverly conveys both the history and modernity of Greece

When a photograph by itself doesn’t summon up a particular location, your design needs to work a little harder. This ad, promoting Greece as both a place of historic interest and a value-for money destination, does just that. The clever tagline ‘A Masterpiece You Can Afford’ is reinforced by some heritage-themed graphics to convey both messages with elegant simplicity. 

07. Virgin Hip Hotels brochure

Virgin Holidays + Hip Hotels branding is sumptuous

Most travel brochures look pretty samey, so this collage of hotel scenes for Virgin Holidays + Hip Hotels is pleasingly eye-catching. The shots were fused together by Brighton-based designer Ralph Izzard to produce a sumptuous colour palette, winning him Best Brochure or Leaflet at the Travel Marketing Awards. You can see more of the brochure here.

08. Oregon

Blending epic with humility adds personality to Oregon's campaign

Tourism advertising can often be accused over overselling its locations. Wieden + Kennedy Portland's ads for its home state of Oregon do just the opposite. The ironically downbeat slogan: ‘It’s just Oregon, no big deal’ contrasts with the epic, spectacular nature of the photography, showcasing the natural beauty of the region. By playing on Oregonians’ famed humility, this juxtaposition makes the message all the more powerful. You can see more of the ads here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.