Every city exists in a competitive environment.

In an increasingly urban and economically connected world, people, money and ideas move quickly from place to place. To remain competitive, cities and regions need to find their own way based on their deep identity and the ambitions of their inhabitants.

The successful experience of some cities has shown that a solid development strategy needs to be complemented by a strong brand that emotionally and functionally synthesises the city’s offer in the minds of target audiences.

In this context, a strong brand is no longer just an option.

A city’s brand is much more than a logo or a series of visual symbols. It includes reputation for tourists and investors and a sense of belonging for residents. It is that combination of benefits that differentiates a city’s offer from that of competing cities.

How to build a city brand?

A successful branding approach combines consistency of message with the specifics of place and involves the collaboration of key players in the community.

It is not a process that is imposed by the local authority or a specialised agency, but is ‘born’, co-created by the community and local leaders (NGOs, local elected representatives, business people, informal leaders, citizens). This is the essence of the STRATEGIC PLACE BRANDING process.

What is strategic place branding?

The process of generating the place brand and managing the image and reputation of the city in relation to its target audiences: current and potential residents (including students), tourists and investors.

The more cities can project a more distinct and distinctive personality, based on an authentic, coherent identity, the more competitive they are and the more opportunities they can capitalise on – when people find out their story.

The results of the place branding process are:

  • An up-to-date analysis of the community and its identity
  • The current situation of the city with the main strengths and weaknesses
  • Identifying opportunities and a vision for development
  • Achieving a brand architecture and a competitive identity
  • Identifying the projects that will bring the vision and the brand to life
  • Coalition of the community around the vision and the brand, its involvement in its dissemination and realization
  • Communicating the brand and its vision to the target audience
  • Monitoring the impact that the process has at the city level

What does competitive identity mean?

The competitive identity of a city is its DNA: a collection of unique, inherited assets, history, personality and culture that distinguish it internally and externally and that has the potential to unite people with the place.

In addition to external opportunities, the development of a competitive identity provides leaders with the bond through which they can unite the community with the institutions in a spirit and a common mission to work together for a number of internal goals.

Who can do strategic place branding

  • Local town halls
  • County Councils
  • Destination Management Associations (AMDs / OMDs)
  • Local tourism promotion associations

“I believe that the mission of the local administration leaders is to bring forward everything that is best in that place and to lead it towards a visionary development direction, which should engage the whole community, so that people would be happy to live there and be able to fulfill their potential.

Place branding is the science that helps community leaders develop their city or community brand, while also focusing on their residents and increasing their level of engagement.”

Felix Tătaru, Chairman of The Institute for Visionary Cities