Category Archives: Place branding
I am an immigrant living in Canada. Years ago, I decided to move here, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. If you are like me, which means if you are someone who enjoys observing and analyzing his surroundings, then living abroad is great fun. As an outsider, sometimes you see things that the locals simply won’t. Purely based on my personal observation, I think Canadians often have difficulty explaining what makes them unique. They intuitively know that they are special, but they can’t put it into words. Have you ever wondered why?
Previously, we analyzed the Czech Republic’s new promotional logo, which did not receive a warm welcome. Unfortunately, the campaign failed to convey unique and compelling messages to the three major audiences of any place branding campaigns: Visitors, potential investors and the locals. We think this campaign did the expected: Promoted “the stereotypical Czech Republic.” However, successful branding requires us to disregard the stereotypes and instead look at the archetypes of the place. In Roman times, it used to be called the Genius Loci: the protective spirit of the place. Our article ended by asking the following questions:
- Why is Czech Republic the home to Bohemia?
- Why the Velvet Revolution took place here?
- Why the 1968 Spring happened in Prague?
Is place branding a money trap invented by evil advertising agencies? Is it a fool’s gold for destinations? Has any place ever benefited from so-called place branding? How about this frightening stat?: 86% of place branding projects fail within a year of introduction. Is there a way to break this curse? Let’s figure out the root cause of the problem first.
“A problem is the thick outermost layer of a fantasy.”
About six months ago, Canada launched a tourism campaign called “Know Canada”, targeting Americans. We discussed why the strategy of the campaign was wrong. Here is the key argument: The campaign is based on facts, whereas “purchase decisions” are based on emotions. We also debated that the campaign was addressing to the wrong part of our brain, its cortex. Finally, we concluded that the campaign did not explain the “Canadian archetype”, and for that reason would not be really successful. Well, turns out that we were not alone thinking that the campaign was not good. The Canadian Tourism Commission asked Canadians to submit home videos of their first-hand experiences in their country, in an initiative dubbed “35 Million Directors”, the citizenry responded with 65 hours of video. The result is a two-minute film from DDB Canada that’s made of user-generated clips that were voted on by Canadians called “Canada Shared by Canadians.” The result is… truly, and archetypically Canadian. See it yourself.
I have always thought that the most difficult branding projects are the place branding ones. As such, I have written quite a bit about the unique challenges of these beasts. The reality is, unfortunately most of them are destined to fail and this is proven by hard data. Months ago, Czech Republic revealed its new promotional logo. So far it seems like people are not falling in love with it. Let’s try to figure out why…
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.
NEWS FLASH: 86% of place brands fail within a year of introduction!
Over the past ten years, k629, a place-branding consultancy, has developed a database of more than 5,000 place brands. From that data source, they have found that only 14% of place brands continue a year from launch. They estimate nearly $75 million has been spent on failed place brands. So, the obvious question is: “Why the success rate is so low?” I believe there are two answers to this question. Let’s start with the mistakes that consultants make…
Recently, I’ve learned that 86% of place branding projects fail. While the research does not explain why, I am willing to bet that one of the major causes of failure is “thinking stereotypically instead of archetypically”, and go even further to suggest the way to successfully branding destinations. Case in point: Ottawa.
As a citizen of a developing country, I am used to being treated as an afterthought by my municipality. Usually, everyday people like myself feel “blessed” when the governing bodies of our cities offer us a new service. At least, that is what they “think” we should feel. If the City decides to extend the subway line, as a citizen you should just cherish even though the stations are eye soring, and trains are painted in hideous colours. Again, coming from a developed country, I am used to that. But, to my surprise, I learnt that things are not totally different in North America, particularly in Toronto. Of course there are some exceptions. And Montreal’s STM is a case in point. Read the rest of this entry