While Dubai successfully emerged as the world’s top shopping destination, and Abu Dhabi as the nation’s cultural capital, Ras Al Khaimah had struggled with brand recognition and top-of- mind awareness on both a regional and international level.
An outdoor destination—home to the country’s highest peak, beautiful beaches, a wealth of adventure and outdoor activities, and pleasant, more temperate weather due to its northern location in the UAE—Ras Al Khaimah is a place unlike any other. As such, the brand required effective positioning and a relevant communication plan that resonated with audiences and highlighted the emirate’s unique qualities and inimitable attractions.
The challenge for the rebrand was to produce a revitalized brand that is appealing to an international audience while also highlighting the destination’s key USPs—its beaches, mountains, and desert landscapes—and differentiating it from neighboring emirates.
Based on our research, we identified three core values for the brand, the first of which is what we call ‘Elevating Heights’. This emphasizes the unique landscape of Ras Al Khaimah and its genuine power to inspire our target audiences to look upward and embrace the profound atmosphere of this astonishing place, while always having their expectations exceeded.
Secondly, we determined the destination to be ‘Down to Earth’, in keeping with its character and authenticity. The ability to enchant effortlessly with its grounded, unassuming ambiance, while offering visitors a wholesome taste of earth’s wonders—from the glowing white sands of its beaches to unique desert landscapes and rugged mountains.
Finally, we identified the third core value as ‘Always in Motion’, a key element of the RAKASHIDA. Through this approach, we would invite our audiences to stretch their imagination, to venture and explore beyond their expectations. Just like the destination itself, we needed to create a sense of endless possibilities with our approach to the rebranding exercise.
The creative approach utilized a distinctive feature of the Arabic language that local and regional audiences in particular easily recognize and are culturally accustomed to. This breeds a sense of familiarity and belonging, while introducing a highly ownable concept for the brand that represents its three key natural assets and tribes: the RAKASHIDA—comprised of the abbreviation of destination’s name (RAK), and the Arabic language mainstay (the KASHIDA).
The RAKASHIDA rebranding approach puts an idiosyncratic, traditional feature of the Arabic language to use in a novel, original and fresh way that seamlessly combines it with a western look and feel that is both striking and captivating for international audiences.
Inspired by Ras Al Khaimah’s natural assets of mountains, deserts and beaches, it also reflects the destination’s future vision and strategy as part of the effort to reorient the brand to navigate through challenging times and a ‘new normal’. As the stretchable line that connects two parts of an Arabic word, the ubiquitous KASHIDA inspired the new Ras Al Khaimah logo as a means of creating connections between all of the brand’s strategic objectives and pillars (evolution, progress, development), as well as the way it aspires to build close, lasting relationships with stakeholders and audiences.
The new brand identity and strategy were announced in May 2021 at a press conference at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), followed by a digital brand campaign targeting specific audience segments, from family vacationers and group explorers seeking different experiences in the ‘new normal’.
The digital campaign reached 74% of our targeted audience universe (against a target of 50-60%), and generated 80,260 new website visits and over 40K repeat visitors.