Place branding refers to activities of creating and sustaining a brand for a place. A ‘place’ may be any geographical area, ranging from small tourism resorts to cities, regions to nations.
Why developing a brand for a place is important?
Countries, cities and tourism destinations are increasingly competing in an attempt to attract tourists, new residents, businesses and investments into their areas. Globalization of competition, increased mobility of investments and skilled labor, greater openness of markets, impact of technological changes as well as changing tourism consumer markets have created considerable challenges as well as fascinating opportunities to places.
Branding is a tool that may increase value creation capability of the place, and help to reach it’s strategic objectives.
Place branding may contribute to the wellbeing of a place by
* Attracting investments and companies
* Attracting travellers
* Presenting the place as an attractive place to live and attracting skilled labour
* Supporting the interests of export industries
* Strengthening citizens' identity and increases self-esteem
* Enhancing the opportunities of Public Diplomacy.
Why developing a place brand is difficult?
“Many have shied away from the topic – arguing that places are too complex to include in branding discussions since they have too many stakeholders and too little management control … and yet, destination branding is one of todays ‘hottest’ topics among place marketers”. (Morgan et al, 2002,4)
Brands have been with us for a century, and a number of highly sophisticated tools for brand management have been developed. However, branding has its origins deep in the realm of physical goods, those items that we all see in the supermarkets.
Place branding differs significantly from the context of branding physical goods, and to large extent from most other service branding contexts.
Places are not single corporations, but are complex entities consisted of great number of stakeholders, great variety of offerings, intentions and strategic objectives. Accordingly, places are challenging to brand.
Traditional brand management knowledge and related models and tools are to an extent limited and difficult to apply to the context of branding a place.
Branding a place is something completely different from developing and attractive logo and visual imagery, a catchy slogan and a nice advertising campaign.
Although great success stories of place branding are rare, they exist. Strong brands have been developed for cities (e.g. Las Vegas), tourism destinations (e.g. Whistler or Verbier ski destinations) or to entire Nations (e.g. Australia, Spain). When advanced place branding approach is intelligently, responsibly and imaginatively applied to places, the consequences are fascinating, far-reaching and potentially world changing.
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