||Protected areas (PAs) are often major tourist attractions, notably in peripheral regions. Officially awarded designations, e.g. “national park”, have been described as being important brands that can create unique selling propositions (USP) for destinations, distinguishing them from similar, but unlabeled landscapes (Arnegger, 2014). The PA label is seen as a guarantee for quality and authentic nature experiences. Officially designated PAs represent a scarce resource since official (national or international) labels are not easily, if at all, transferable and imitable (Hannemann & Job, 2003). It is often argued that certain designations, especially national parks and world heritage sites, have a superior brand identity compared to other, less-known labels such as biosphere reserves or nature parks (Reinius & Fredman, 2007; Job et al., 2005; Nolte, 2004). However, this argument appears to be based to a large degree on specific case studies and on-site surveys rather than on systematic image assessments of PA categories. The present study addresses this research gap by evaluating the strengths of different PA categories as brands in tourism in a representative panel study for the German context. We focus on the three major large-scale PA categories as defined by the German Federal Law on Nature Conservation (BNatSchG): (a) national parks, (b) biosphere reserves and (c) nature parks (“Naturparke”), all of which can play, according to their legal mandate, important roles for tourism.