I was interviewed by Samantha J. Manniex, a passionate blogger and a place branding practitioner from the UK. It was a fun and insightful conversation. I am posting three questions and answers about my methodology. If you want to read the full interview, please click here.
When you work on a branding campaign, especially destination branding, what are your most essential tools?
I read somewhere that every second our brain processes about 11 million bits of data, yet we are consciously aware of only 50 bits of them. That’s the power of the unconscious mind! C.G. Jung claimed that just like the individual unconscious, there is also a collective unconscious (the unconscious shared by the masses.) So, I invite you to imagine how powerful the collective unconscious could be! That’s why archetypal thinking, which is rooted in the collective unconscious, is my most valuable tool…
Another useful tool of mine is Appreciative Inquiry. Over the years, I have grown to believe that organizations’ greatest area for improvement lies in their greatest strength, not in their weaknesses. A.I. allows me to focus on “what is working” and create a positive aura. Likewise, Positive Deviance is another useful way of thinking, especially on large-scale projects.
How useful do you think social media is for creating effective place branding campaigns? Have you included it in any of your own work?
I haven’t, but if I had a choice, I definitely would. I think social media is instrumental especially “during” the project. Place branding projects need to be exceptionally transparent and engaging.
Usually, places keep their branding processes relatively quiet. They all conduct some market research and every now, and then they issue press releases. But, that’s not enough to get the masses involved. Without large-scale involvement, place brand projects are doomed to fail.
I think an ideal place branding project should create a blog with a built-in forum before the project kicks off. The blog would be updated weekly so that everyone could see the progress and be informed, should they wish to do so. The forum would create a 2-way dialogue. Places could ask questions, share ideas and even get creative feedback. Brand ambassadors would oversee the flow of information and tackle misinformation right away. Same tactics can later be deployed for other target audiences.
Can you tell us your brief philosophy for effective place branding?
- Involvement of all key stakeholders.
- Engagement of the inhabitants.
- Starting with “what the place already has” and then finding audiences that might be interested in it. Not the other way around.
- Perceiving place branding not as a silver bullet, but as a galvanizer.
Here is the rest of the interview.