Establishing a brand identity for tourism destinations may help ease the problems caused by the intangibility of tourism products and increase the concerted efforts of tourism service providers, ensuring stability in markets and facilitating the process of market segmentation. Therefore, considering the necessity for more attention to the destination’s brand identity due to increased competition within the tourism industry, this qualitative study sought to develop a model for establishing a brand identity for Mashhad city using the grounded theory method. To this end, some twelve managers, professors, and researchers working in the field of brand and tourism in Mashhad were selected to participate in detailed semi-structured interviews using purposive sampling. Then, the collected data were analyzed through open, axial, and selective coding.
The study’s findings indicated the positive role of personal factors such as awareness of the destination’s brand or the tourists’ behavioral intentions in developing the brand identity of tourist destinations, which in turn influence the relevant strategies. In other words, such factors help the official select appropriate distinct marketing or development strategies, bringing about a variety of outcomes, including socio-economic development. Moreover, it could be argued that the strategies are set on the grounds of participation development in which the destination’s brand identity is formed. However, intervening factors such as micro and macro environmental factors should also be taken into account in this regard.