Written by Julian Stubbs | Stockholm
on January 28, 2015

Q: What is the place branding process like?

A: Branding a place, whether it is a small village or a whole country, is probably the most complicated form of branding due to the fact that it is neither owned nor controlled by a single entity. From destination marketing and tourism to business development for place brands, everyone living within that area owns and influences the brand in one way or the other. And more often than not, many of the major stakeholders do not agree on what to do or how to do it. That is why the branding process is so important in place branding and destination marketing.

The Place Branding Podcast- Wish You Were Here

UP has designed a place branding process specifically to meet those challenges and bring the individual strategies and agendas to a consensus with a single brand image. This process covers some of the following areas:

1. Deep dive. As the first step in place marketing, our consultants spend a couple of intensive days understanding what makes a place unique. We visit important sites, interview major influencers, and generate an overall impression of the place from an outsider’s viewpoint. This work feeds into a playback report, which becomes part of the general brief for the assignment.

2. Identity. Through a series of workshops and exercises, we map the identity of the place, how the inhabitants themselves see the place and its people.

3. Image. Through an external audit, we measure the image of the place abroad. What do others think of when they hear the name of the place? Do they recognise it at all? Is there an image-identity gap? What meaning does that have for the branding of the place?

4. Vision. Where do you want to be in 5 or 15 years? What do you have today that supports that vision and how can you further build on that to become the leader in that role?

5. Strategy. A strategy is developed that sets out the positioning, brand platform, identity, communications and media platform. This is in the form of a full strategy report with recommendations including, as needed, identity considerations. This is signed off before moving onto the next steps.

This destination marketing approach fits into our overall brand development process BASE-UP. This systematic, step-wise process has been used successfully for over twenty years in working with some of the most famous names around. Read more about BASE-UP here.


Q: What is the first step of the place branding process?

A: We start with a “deep dive”, a couple of intensive days where we interview all the major players within the place from government, business, education, entertainment and creative industries. This process gives us a good overview of what are the main strengths and challenges within the place, who are the main people to include in the process and where the place brand is, right now.


Q: What is the difference between place branding, place marketing, destination marketing and destination branding?

A: The terms place branding and place marketing are often used interchangeably although there might be said to be a slight difference. We prefer to use the term place branding as we focus more on the image and the reputation of a place, than just advertising or communication.

The branding of a place is more inclusive than destination marketing or destination branding. While destination marketing’s main focus is on the attraction of tourists and visitors and is more likely to rely on advertising of some sort mixed with other methods, the branding of a place covers all the communication of the place. That means it is not only the attraction of tourists, but also the attraction of inward investment and businesses as well as the attraction of people and talents. Place branding can have just as much inward focus as outward focus building up pride and a vision among the companies and the people of a place.

UP THERE, EVERYWHERE works with both place branding and destination marketing.


Q: What kind of places do you brand?

A: We work for places of any size and any kind. It can be from a single shopping mall, a development project, a municipaility or even a whole country. Our work has included a great variety of places such as the capital cities of Norway and Sweden, some of the leading municipalities in Scandinavia, the rural wilderness of eastern Greenland and pretty much anything in between. Most commonly we work for city regions or municipalities.


Q: How much does a place branding process cost?

A: That varies greatly and depends on how you want to do it. Our role can be as advisors or we can run the whole process. Usually we start with the deep dive and based on that we design the process based on the client’s needs and budgets. Because of how UP THERE, EVERYWHERE is structured our prices are very competitive without sacrificing any of the quality.


Q: What’s the difference between place branding and nation branding?

A: None, really. Nation branding is simply place branding where the place is a nation. The same goes for City branding. That is place branding for a city. Since we work for places of different forms and sizes we have decided to always use the term place branding.


Q: How do you measure the success of a place branding campaign?

A: There are many ways to measure the success of such a campaign. What we want to measure (the KPIs) is one of the tasks of the place branding process. What are the goals and how do we measure if we have reached them? In general, the aim is to create a coherent message and an identity that different players from within the place adapt into their own message. In that way we can build a strong image for a place as people always get the same or similar message.

There are mainly three forms of measuring:

External research where we simply ask people from around the world what comes to their mind when they hear the mention of the place. Doing this before we start and then repeating it regularly through the years shows how the image and the brand of the place is developing externally.

Media coverage where we monitor the coverage the place is getting in international media, if they are negative or positive and if they are reinforcing the brand or counteracting it.

Internal usage where we measure how much companies and organisations within the place are using the elements created to reinforce the brand – and as an element to reinforce their own brand.


Q: Do you offer public speaking on place branding and destination marketing?

A: Yes, we do. Both Julian Stubbs and Hjortur Smarason are popular speakers on the topics of place branding and destination marketing. Popular topics include:

‘Branding Stockholm – the Capital of Scandinavia‘ where Julian Stubbs talks about the building of ‘The capital of Scandinavia’ as a brand and the affect it has had.

‘Branding Iceland through crisis’ where Hjortur Smarason talks about how negative events can be turned into positive publicity with the economic crisis and the volcanic eruptions in Iceland as an example.

Customized talks. Let us know what the event and the audience is and we can customize our talk to match your audience perfectly.


Q: What are the main benefits of place branding?

A: What does it matter to your opinion if a car is produced in Germany or in Sweden? Or if your shoes are from Italy or China? Places have built a reputation for certain products or reliabilities. Italy and French are famous for luxury goods and fashion. Scandinavia is famous for design and democracy, Switzerland for cuckoo clocks, Belgium for chocolate, Norway for salmon and Kashmir for wool. What reputation does your place have?

Many brands choose names that sounds like they are from a different place because of the brand of that place. Technology companies try to sounds Japanese and fashion copmanies try to sound Italian. Having those connections gives the brand immediate trust and interest within its field.

It is tricky to build up such a reputation, and sometimes such a reputation can be a challenge for other industries in the area. Our role is to figure out what the main strengths of a place is that organizations and people can use as ingredients for their branding. To be able to build up such a brand it is important that the message people get from the place is coherent.

You can look at it as a choir. Any given place has hundreds of voices. If no one knows what the identity and strength of the place is, everyone will be singing different songs. Though each voice may be pretty alone, coming together they create nothing but noise. Our role is to tune those voices so they sound like a beautiful choir. They don’t have to be all the same or sing the same notes. Choirs have basses and sopranos alike, but when they come together they are going to sounds strong and complete getting a clear message out to the audience.

We are like the conductor while the people and the companies are the voices singing. Our job is to make their voices sing in tune to get the audience to listen.

Listen to our podcast

The Place Branding Podcast ⇒

Place Branding Podcast Listen Now

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