Why do place brands fail? The mistakes of the places. Part 2

Previously, we mentioned that 86% of place brands fail. Then, we examined the mistakes brand consultants commit. Today, we’ll talk about the other half of the equation: The mistakes places commit. This is the second installment of our three-article series.

By Henripontes (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Henripontes (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

We always say that a brand is more than a logo. You cannot design a logo and say: “Mazal tov! Your city has officially become a brand.” In real life, it does not work that way. According to Simon Anholt, a leading place-branding consultant, people’s perception of a place is influenced by six factors. Successful place brands deliver adequately on all of the six pillars listed below. A tall order…

  1. Exports – Determines the public’s image of products and services from each country and the extent to which consumers proactively seek or avoid products from each country-of-origin. (This could be city-specific too.)
  2. Governance – Measures public opinion regarding the level of national government competency and fairness and describes individuals’ beliefs about each country’s government, as well as its perceived commitment to global issues such as democracy, justice, poverty and the environment. (It could be interpreted as municipal government.)
  3. Culture and Heritage – Reveals global perceptions of each nation’s (city’s) heritage and appreciation for its contemporary culture, including film, music, art, sport and literature.
  4. People – Measures the population’s reputation for competence, education, openness and friendliness and other qualities, as well as perceived levels of potential hostility and discrimination.
  5. Tourism – Captures the level of interest in visiting a country (city) and the draw of natural and man-made tourist attractions.
  6. Investment and Immigration – Determines the power to attract people to live, work or study in each country and reveals how people perceive a country’s economic and social situation. (Again, we can replace country with city.)

Here is something you should never forget: Ultimately, your place brand exists in people’s minds. Your brand is the tourists’; investors’ and habitants’ gut feelings about your city. As the aforementioned six pillar show the formation of a place brand (in people’s minds) is much more complicated than that of a corporate brand’s. If your city thinks that branding is primarily a visual and promotional exercise then your chances of success is drastically diminished. Based on my experience, I can say that successful place branding projects are U-shaped. Believe it or not, your competition should not be your starting point. First, you must dive deep, explore within. In a way it is a meditation-like process. As a city, you have to understand who you are, what you value and what story you are living. At this point, archetypal thinking is extremely useful. Only once you achieve consensus on concise, precise and compelling answers you should start communicate externally.

The most common mistake while branding a city is to think of branding as an aesthetic exercise. Design without strategy is called decoration. But such perceptions are not the only obstacle. There are more! On the next article, we will talk more about human centered-mistakes that places commit.

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About Soydanbay

I am a passionate brand consultant who has a rare ability to combine rational thinking and creative intelligence. I give my clients the freedom to express their brands and deliver compelling customer experiences. I love branding. Actually I am obsessed with it.

Posted on September 25, 2012, in Brand & Communication Strategy, Place branding and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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