Chairman of the International Place Branding Association advises mayors who are interested in building a strong brand for their cities / regions
Go on a quest for your purpose and positioning, together with civil society and the private sector. [The construction of a brand] is both a top-down (requiring leadership) and bottom-up (co-creation) process.
- What is place branding and what are its benefits for the community?
A brand is a named entity that occupies mind space among external audiences. So, place branding intends to build name awareness and a strong reputation for cities, regions and countries among (inter)national audiences. Doing this will make it easier to attract tourists, investors, international students, conduct diplomacy or export products, culture or services.
- What is the role of the vision in the development of a community/place?
I call it “purpose”. To understand who we are as a community, where we came from and – in that light – where we want to go. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of this in order to find an appropriate positioning that is distinctive, authentic, consistent and meaningful.
- Why should the citizens/community be involved in the place branding process?
Place branding has to be a “lived experiences”. It is a long term process that requires consistent “on-
brand” action and government can only do so much. If the private sector and citizens get involved it can
massively accelerate impact, because it is not about advertising and propaganda, but about meaningful
- Can a place be developed nowadays without a place branding strategy?
Sure, but it would be a huge missed opportunity, because place branding is about development as it adds another crucial perspective to development. We usually ask ourselves whether planned development is good for the community and its economy. Place branding asks: will this add to our reputation?
- Can a place branding strategy secure a long-term development of a place irrespective
of the political changes?
Yes, and it should as place branding is a long term process. Because place branding relies on purpose, private sector and citizen ambassadorship, it can and ideally should become a thing on its own. Something that is untouchable when it becomes something that the community has embraced as its own and hence has moved away from political bargaining.
- What advice would you give to a mayor of a city interested in building his city brand?
Go on a quest for your purpose and positioning, together with civil society and the private sector. It is
both a top-down (requiring leadership) and bottom-up (co-creation) process that intends to facilitate a
new perspective to policy making.