This is a very exciting time for Jordan. Global audiences are no longer hostage to the generalizing narrative of big media about the Middle East and its troubles. Those arriving to this peaceful Kingdom via its Norman Foster designed airport on board of a Ryan Air or Wizz Air, smartphone in hand, open to experiences and human connections, can find in Jordan a place that shifts their perception of time, both historical and personal.
Jordan offers the tribes of intrepid travelers insights into the origins of our contemporary civilization and human struggles, welcomed by a mosaic of people who’s resilience, reflected in their cities, towns, villages, kitchens, art galleries and souqs, is their defining mark. For those wanting to escape the homogenizing monotony of much of contemporary life, a trip to Jordan is the needed wake up jolt with its time-shifting magic, contrast rich, dazzling diversity concentrated into a country the size of a cup of bedouin coffee.
It’s that kind of experience we distilled into the Kingdom of Time Jordan Tourism Brand.
Tourism in Jordan has been on a multi-year trajectory of acceleration and diversification in the last decade. The Kingdom has become increasingly more accessible, particularly with low cost airlines finding their way to the country. Jordan was, at last, shaking off its traditional “history lesson” positioning, with a new generation of Jordanian tourism innovators adding exciting new layers of adventure, nature and community experiences to Jordan’s majestic timeless landscapes.
The Jordan Tourism Board was determined to draw in new type of tourists: intrepid travelers who are independent, active, digitally-empowered explorers seeking meaningful experiences and human connection. Concurrently, Jordan’s tourism offering has diversified to include business, religious and medical tourism. The industry was crying out for a tourism brand that promoted Jordan as a multifaceted destination, and the Jordanian economy critically needed the boost of income and employment that tourism can bring.
SYNTAX was chosen to lead Jordan’s first comprehensive tourism branding endeavor. Our mandate was to develop an ambitious, inclusive and contemporary brand. To meet that challenge we worked with a wide array of stakeholders inside Jordan and globally, and established a close collaboration with the London-based consultancy Something More Near, bringing together local and global perspectives, ideas and impulses.
Intrepid travelers who are independent, active, digitally-empowered explorers seeking meaningful experiences and human connection.
Beyond the world-wonder of Petra, the past decade saw Jordan getting global attention for nature and adventure tourism experiences like the Jordan Trail (who’s brand was also developed by SYNTAX). Urban and town tourism also came into focus. The capital Amman, once considered only as a place for tourists to sleep, was exposed to millions of people worldwide when British super-band Coldplay chose the ancient Roman and Islamic ruins in the heart of the contemporary capital as a stage to launch their November 2019 album Everyday Life. Seekers of authentic flavors also started to discover the Kingdom for the mosaic of Arabic culinary delights of the Jordanian kitchen, their eyes opened to Jordan through numerous travel and food bloggers who started to visit the country.
But Jordan’s tourism marketing efforts struggled to include this diversity of experiences and, critically, lacked a unifying idea to spearhead the country’s global communication efforts. Jordan’s legacy tourism marketing, although developing rapidly, still had not fully embraced intrepid travelers and their preferences.
After intensive local and global research, field visits, conversations and workshops with a wide array of local and global thought leaders, trendsetters and creatives, we zeroed in on what truly makes Jordan a destination like no other.
Destination branding has a trap. As every country sees itself as “authentic”, “diverse” and “welcoming” many tourism brand efforts end up with a variation on “a welcoming land of diversity” theme. As we crafted Jordan’s brand, we wanted to avoid this pitfall.
Our thinking coalesced around a big, iconic idea: Jordan as the ‘Kingdom of Time’. It’s a place where one can quite literally touch all of geological time and human history, where time can accelerate in a bustling city center, or go into slow-motion during a dive of Aqaba’s Red Sea underwater coral forests, or even come to a total standstill in the desert of Wadi Rum, in a moment of cosmic awe under a clear starry sky that unveils the Milky Way.
In the Kingdom of Time every moment is a treasure. Time is all we have, all we need, all there ever was and will be. Whether it’s time for yourself, time with friends and family, time making human connections, or taking in the views, sounds and flavors. That unique sense of time became the essence of the Jordan Brand.
Jordan’s new tourism brand is a contemporary reflection of a destination which can be traversed by car in less than a day, yet fuses together a dizzying collage of geological and natural wonders, historical richness, a tradition of spirituality and faith, and a contemporary Arabian culture of openness and warmth that welcomes everyone for leisure, business and healing.
Under the umbrella of the Kingdom of Time idea, the brand required a versatile communication framework to express the breadth of Jordan’s tourism offering. Beyond the intrepid traveler, we also needed to address the needs of corporate events, medical tourism and faith-based pilgrimage travel.
For the leisure traveller we identified three motivations: Relaxing and absorbing, making meaningful human and cultural connections, and engaging in high energy activities. These travel motivations where crossed over with three pillars of experience that Jordan offers: Infinite history, natural diversity and an accessible, open Arab culture.
This 3x3 matrix formed the communication framework of the brand, allowing for a plethora of messages to be developed for various “tribes” of intrepid travelers, from film buffs wanting to revisit the scenes of Star Wars or the Martian in the real life desert of Wadi Rum, to culturally curious explorers wanting to better understand the Arab Middle East, to those who want to combine luxury and a sense of awe at a 5-star Dead Sea resort.
Under the umbrella of the Kingdom of Time idea, the brand required a versatile communication framework to express the breadth of Jordan’s tourism offering.
Beyond leisure, the new Jordan Tourism Brand also, for the first time, tackles business events, medical tourism and faith based pilgrimage as fully formed and quite separate sub-brands, that still benefit from the overall umbrella that the “Kingdom of Time” avails.
The needs of business event organizers where carefully studied and addressed. To them Jordan is a meeting place that is both timeless and unconventional. A thriving knowledge hub of modern entrepreneurship in the most ancient meeting place of civilizations.
Medical tourism has been growing for decades in Jordan. But the country lacked a focused effort to comprehensively create a branding strategy to communicate and sell the considerable offering of the medical sector. The new brand consolidated that offering under the idea of uplifting, responsive care that not only offers world-class medical treatment, but also humane care for patients and their families, as well as avenues for rejuvenation and wellness.
And while Jordan always saw itself as part of the “Holy Land” – the country’s name is indeed that of the holy river that flows through it – the new Jordan Tourism brand, crystalized the faith pilgrimage tourism proposition as one of “expanded pilgrimage”, an extension of the visit to Mecca, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, for a pilgrim to be fully immersed in the stories and sites of the Bible and Islamic tradition.
The new Jordan Tourism Brand also, for the first time, tackles business events, medical tourism and faith based pilgrimage as fully formed and quite separate sub-brands.
Designed as an inclusive catalyst to spread tourism across the Kingdom, benefiting both traditional tourism operators and an emerging generation of hyper-local tourism experience creators, Jordan’s new tourism brand marks a shift in the role of tourism as a driver of local sustainable development. Co-created with a wide spectrum of Jordan’s tourism, cultural and creative communities, the brand draws upon a global interest in homegrown experiences and personal connections.
As the role of tourism authorities and tourism promotion boards changes in a digital world where every local tourism business, guide or even taxi driver can create a website or social media account promoting tourism in a country, we envisioned the strategic role of the brand, and indeed of the Jordan Tourism Board itself, less of that of a gatekeeper and chief promoter to that of a curator, educator and content provider.
The brand draws upon a global interest in homegrown experiences and personal connections.
An entire country could never be fully encapsulated within a brand, A country is not a rigid product with set selling points, pricing and technical features. But a country brand can inspire, educate, curate, cross-promote and open doors.
History, ten thousand years in the making. An immersive, tangible experience of history.
Majestic & striking landscapes of every colour and kind, concentrated within a small country.
A progressive Arab Middle Eastern culture where everybody is welcome, different enough to be exotic, familiar enough to feel right at home.
After 12 months of research, conceptualizing, and design, just as the finishing touches where being put on the new Jordan Tourism Brand, the COVID pandemic hit. A team of SYNTAXers was visiting the Queen Alia International Airport just as the first plane, this particular one full of Italian tourists, was turned back and the country shut its door for a total lockdown. Tourism ground to a halt in Jordan as it did across the globe, a major blow to the Jordanian economy after a stellar 2019. It would be two years before the country dusted itself off and saw it’s tourism begin to regain its former vigor.
In 2022 the new brand was finally launched at the London Travel Week (part of the global World Travel Market), positioning Jordan for the first time as the Kingdom of Time to the world.
The brand soon after was used to promote Jordan during the Qatar World Cup, headlining with the Kingdom of Time. SYNTAX developed the massive marketing campaign for the World Cup attendees and visitors, showcasing the new brand in the airport, outdoor media, and digital media.
The brand has since been spotted around Europe, in tourism campaigns for Jordan in Eastern and Western Europe; the UK, Italy, Germany. Domestic tourism has also started to pick up the new Jordan brand with a few billboards promoting destinations around Jordan. The new brand has recently been adopted by the Ministry of Tourism, consolidating all tourism offerings and products across Jordan under one, unified brand.
SYNTAX developed the massive marketing campaign for the World Cup attendees and visitors, showcasing the new brand in the airport, outdoor media, and digital media.
The brand has since been spotted around Europe, in tourism campaigns for Jordan in Eastern and Western Europe; the UK, Italy, Germany.
Focus groups, and interviews
Creatives and stakeholder workshops
Bilingual logo design
Visual identity design
Brand activation strategy
Print, digital, and outdoor implementation
Launch campaign concept
Qatar World Cup 2022 Campaign
Brand launch video script
Brand guidelines portal
Training and handover
SYNTAX - Lead branding firm
Ahmad Humeid - Lead strategist and creative director
Lina Abdulhadi - Researcher and strategist
Ahmad Sabbagh - Lead designer
Ala’a Ali - Interactive designer
Lina Refai - Researcher and strategist
Basheer Anani - Researcher and strategist
Aseel Haddad - Project coordinator
Violla Afara - Designer
Attab Ghandour - Designer
Nadeen Shiqem - Designer
Mohammad Assaf - Senior and design director
Ghadeer Jarrar - Project support coordinator
George Akra - Operations manager
Something More Near
Simon Myers - Partner and lead consultant
David Gunn - Partner and lead consultant
James Stevens - Strategist
Walter Hutton - Designer
Nicole Macleod - Researcher and writer
Jeremy Hildreth - Brand consultant
Additional content writers
Paul Clammer - Travel writer and guidebook author
Aysha El-Shamayleh - Writer, film director and series creator
Muna Haddad - Sustainable tourism expert
Eddie Taylor - Editor and journalist
Nico Dingemans - Hospitality consultant