The Power of Iconic Brand Symbols

If you’re not up on branding or impressed that brands have any power, you might want to take another look at it.

Because a brand is your biggest asset once you build it. Brands have many dimensions, promises, value points, and touchpoints with travel consumers. And your travel content has to reference key drivers of brand power — namely icons.

The Power of Travel Brands

In the travel sector, you have Expedia,, Airbnb,, Tripadvisor, United Airlines, Marriott Hotels, and others with massive brand power. They’ve worked diligently with a strategy to build that brand value and the trust of travelers. If travelers book rooms, flights and tours with these large firms, it’s due to trust. Their brand beats yours.

And in a world of ripoffs, fakery, and danger, trust is important. Trust might be the key value point in brands now in the era of generative AI fakery.  Online fakery just raises the pain points of trust and credibility to the top.

Leveraging Iconic Symbolism for Your Tour Marketing

With respect to brands, the term iconic is often cited. Iconic means well-known, established and perhaps most trusted. If you’re hoping to build trust and capture loyalty, leveraging the right iconic symbols is wise. Or you’ll have to build your own iconic symbol (expensive, hard work).

An icon can be a concept, word, phrase, or image associated with an important value


The point here is that you’re looking to leverage that iconic image’s meaning to make your brand and products more relevant to tourgoers.  As I’ll explain, iconic words and images can have a significant impact on visitor’s purchase decisions. Compare this to companies not using the power of symbolism who just present pages full of destination and tour descriptions.

Building the Most Significant Tour Brand

Your competitive advantage is to sell with significance and memorability, not with tour information and a hope and a prayer.

And as I recommend borrowing brand power from these popular images (e.g., Golden Gate Bridge) within your video and copywritten travel content, it’s just one part of communicating value to your visitors and customers. And there are more techniques to increase your brand’s significance. It takes a lot to build trust and get that booking. And significance is what makes your product the only one for them.


As Jeremy Miller says in his post on, “symbols are a powerful element of your brand identity system that extends beyond your logo. The goal of brand builders is to create a visual shorthand using symbols to connect and engage your customers.”


Icons have a beautiful simplicity too in that they’re a shorthand version of a value.

What Sells a California Tour?

A good case in point is with tours of California, especially the Bay Area and San Francisco. SF is filled with iconic symbols.

When I visited San Francisco in 2005 for the first Google/Search Engine Marketing event at the Google campus down in beautiful Mountainview, CA, I was very excited. I didn’t know much about California or the Bay Area. So my view was vastly different from people and business owners living in the Bay Area, or travelers who’ve been there many times.

To my newbie eyes 20 years ago, the Golden Gate Bridge was the one thing I had to see and experience. It’s an incredible structure lasting a century and still is the most impressive bridge in North America. And it symbolizes ambition, hard work, leading-edge engineering, and audacity. My first drive across it was magical. This bridge I’ve heard about since I was a kid, and finally, I was experiencing one of the planet’s great sites in person.

An Icon for Every Major Attraction?

Of course, California is my favorite place, and probably every other traveler’s too. So many unique things to do and see. We find many incredible icons for the California travel sector to leverage. As nice as San Fran is, with the Coit Tower, Cable Car rides, coastal beaches, Pacific Coast Highway, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, the GG bridge is still number one.

If you operate a California tour business, that iconic bridge is the most powerful symbol to be branded with. Of course, many SF area businesses have hitched a ride on it. But, for your travel business, it can be used outright as your main brand symbol, perhaps built right into your logo?

It doesn’t matter how many others use it, only that you use uniquely and powerfully.

It could be subtly and creatively worked into your Bay Area and California tour promotions/pages/design to capture the imagination of millions of people who have never been to California. They’re sitting at their computers looking at many destinations globally. This is where iconic symbols compete hard including the Eifel Tower, Sydney Opera House, Empire State Building, CN Tower, Miami Skyline, Hawaiian Leis, New Zealand war masks, and the Alps Mountain cable cars compete head to head.

Travel companies including, Expedia, Gadventures and all the rest aren’t shy of showing the GG bridge to get attention. Those iconic images have a powerful influence on travel buyers’ intent. Because the closer travelers get to making a decision, the more emotional they become. It comes down to one single feeling of good or less good. The details get fuzzy because they’ve mulled them over for so long and that icon is such a powerful reassurance connecting them to their core travel drivers.

Fighting to Establish Value via Iconic Symbols at Every Touchpoint

The traveler and tour goer are building up desire while minimizing resistance and fear — to make one single choice.

That icon activates something deeply emotional that can influence their travel decision. That’s why battling on each page is so important. You can sway them to your tours/destinations at the last second. Some other companies don’t finish the sales/promotion job and lost that customer.

SFtravel fuses the Golden Gate iconic image.
SFtravel fuses the GG iconic image. Image:
Dyland Tours going all in on the iconic GG Bridge.
Dyland Tours going all in on the iconic GG Bridge. Image:

My client, ManageCasa, based in San Francisco (SaaS software) integrates the bridge image within its slogan “Made in San Francisco.” That’s so smart, because software is an engineered product that needs to last. Anything associated with California too gives it a special allure, even with all the misery in the last 4 years.

How Do You Leverage the Power of Iconic Symbols?

  • research which are the best, most powerful symbols to incorporate
  • choose symbols that resonate with your company’s brand values and positioning
  • use symbols that intersect best with your range of tours, accommodations, restaurant, etc.
  • create different versions of your logo slightly modified for each destination or tour you provide incorporating different icons into each product category section
  • mention the iconic image/entity in your copywriting and headings
  • use more photos that are related to the iconic entity
  • in your copywriting, use words that are connected to the iconic entity


Iconic symbols create a powerful brand-boosting effect that peaks interest, impact, and confidence.  Visitors come to your landing/conversion pages with more of their intent ready to be unleashed.

It’s just one of the many tactics you can use to elevate the impact and power of your content.

Hire a travel content strategist who can weave this advantage and many more into your content to give your brand the market leader.

Contact Gord at 416 998 6246 to discuss your tour business and how to grow.

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