Gjirokastra is a UNESCO city located in southeast Albania. The city has huge potential as it encompasses the richness of Albanian culture and civilizations, with beautiful architecture, birthplace of Nobel laureate writer, Ismail Kadare. Yet, no initiative on branding and marketing the destination existed until 2018!
But destination marketers can’t invent an identity; residents and visitors need to reveal it by sharing their perspectives. Our role as DMO in this project, besides our research was to get locals to work together to find the unique stories that resonate with both residents and potential visitors.
We did an exercise with participants from the industry and asked them to work in groups for a SWOT analysis of their destinations in order to uncover local identity. The project covers not only Gjirokastra city but the whole region, containing some small towns and villages.
Our research showed that besides the obvious:
After a deep analysis, we decided that three were the most outstanding elements that will represent better the identity of the region: 1. the castle, for the resistance; 2. the book- for the literature and the knowledge. (Besides Kadare, there is Frasheri Village the birthplace of national poet) and the third element was the 3.the green mountains and parks.
Gjirokastra has the weight of this branding the region as 80% of travelers come to see the old city, therefore our branding will have Gjirokastra in focus. Indeed, is a city of many stories, described also in many books by Ismail Kadare, winner of some International Literature Prizes. Therefore, the best slogan to fit with the brand identity was: Chronicle in Stone, as the tittle of its book of childhood.