Place branding Q&A
Questions and answers about place branding and destination marketing
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Place branding & destination marketing
Q: What is the place branding process like?
A: Branding places, whether it’s a small village or a whole country, is complicated because places are not usually owned or controlled by a single entity. Everyone living in and connected to the place owns and influences its brand in one way or another. What’s more, the stakeholders often don’t agree on what to do or how to do it. That’s why having a robust process is so important in place branding and destination marketing.
UP has designed a place branding process specifically to meet these challenges. We involve all parties and build consensus around a clear and simple proposition. The process covers the following areas:
1. Deep dive. As the first step in branding places and destinations, 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. We write a report based on the trip, which becomes part of the brief.
2. Identity. Through a series of workshops and exercises, we map the identity of the place. This includes how the inhabitants see the place and their relationship to it.
3. Image. We measure the image of the place abroad with an external audit. What do people think of when they hear the name? Do they recognize it at all? Is there an image-identity gap? What impact does that have on branding the place?
4. Vision. We discuss and agree where you want to be in five or 10 years. What do you have right now that supports that vision? How can you build on your strengths to become a market leader?
5. Strategy. We develop a comprehensive strategy setting out the brand identity and position as well as the best approach for communicating it with the public. We discuss the strategy report with the client before they sign it off and we move on to the next step.
This destination marketing approach fits into our brand development process we call BASE-UP. This systematic process has been used successfully for over twenty years in working with ambitious startups and household names alike.
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 in the place. This includes figures from government, business, education, entertainment and the creative industries. This process gives us a good overview of the main strengths and challenges, the people we need 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 you could argue there is a slight difference. We prefer to use the term place branding as we focus more on boosting the image and the reputation of a place, rather than just advertising or communications.
We feel that place branding offers a more rounded approach than destination marketing or destination branding. The aim of destination marketing is to attract visitors and investment using advertising. Place branding does that too, but it covers a wider range of communications and involves the community more closely; building pride around a shared vision. Having said that, UP THERE, EVERYWHERE does both place branding and destination marketing.
Q: What kind of places do you brand?
A: We’ve worked with all kinds of places including cities and municipalities in the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland and Scandinavia. Airports (mall), development projects, the capital cities of Norway and Sweden, even whole countries. Anywhere that needs place branding, we can help.
Q: How much does a place branding process cost?
A: There’s a big range and it depends how you want to do it. We can act as advisors or we can run the whole process. After the deep dive, we design the project based on the client’s needs and budget. Because of how UP THERE, EVERYWHERE is structured our prices are competitive without sacrificing quality.
Q: What’s the difference between place branding and nation branding?
A: None, really. Nation branding is simply place branding for a country. The same goes for city branding. That is, place branding for a city. Since we work for places of all sizes, we’ve decided to always use the term place branding.
Q: How do you measure the success of a place branding campaign?
A: There are several ways to measure success. Deciding what we measure and how is one of the tasks of the place branding process. That means setting clear goals and making sure we know when we’ve reached them. In general, the aim is to create a coherent brand identity and message that different stakeholders can use in their own communications. That way all audiences get a consistent impression of the place.
There are three main forms of measuring:
- External research. This involves surveying people around the world about their impressions of the place. Doing this at the beginning of the project and then repeating it regularly over the years shows how the brand of the place is evolving.
- Media coverage. We monitor international media coverage, checking if coverage is negative or positive, and if it’s reinforcing the brand or undermining it.
- Internal usage. We measure how effectively companies and organizations in the place are using the branding toolkit we’ve created. And if they are successfully using the place brand identity to enhance their own communications.
Q: Do you offer public speaking on place branding and destination marketing?
A: Yes, we do. Julian Stubbs is a popular speaker on the topics of place branding and destination marketing. And so is Ardi Eleveld, who teaches place branding at universities in the Netherlands. 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. Read more about this in the book Wish You Were Here: The Branding of Stockholm and other Places.
- How can places become destinations?
- How to get buy-in from place brand stakeholders
- How cities can attract digital nomads
- Customized talks.
Tell us about your event and we can customize our talk to match your audience perfectly.
Q: What are the main benefits of place branding?
A: Do you care 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 industries. Italy and France are famous for luxury goods and fashion. Scandinavia is famous for design and democracy, Switzerland for cuckoo clocks, Belgium for chocolate. What reputation does your place have?
Many brands choose names that have associations with a place renowned for the type of product they sell. For example, technology companies try to sound Japanese and fashion companies try to sound Italian. Making that connection immediately increases trust and interest.
It’s tricky to build a worldwide reputation. And sometimes such a strong reputation makes it hard for other industries in the area. Our role is to uncover the unique features of a place so organizations can use them as ingredients for their branding. To build a strong place brand, it’s important that the audience gets a consistent message.
Think of a place as a choir. There are hundreds of voices. If no one knows what the identity and strengths of the place are, everyone sings a different song and you end up with an awful noise. Our role is to make sure everyone is singing from the same song sheet. So, when the different voices come together, there’s a clear and pleasing sound that the audience wants to listen to.
Q: How has Covid-19 affected place branding?
A: Because of the pandemic, places have to adjust the way they brand themselves towards visitors, residents, talent and businesses. Here are some changes we think are here to stay:
- The way we work. People who can work from home will continue to do so at least some of the time. As proximity to work becomes less important, people will be more flexible about where they live. This also means companies will have access to a wider pool of talent working remotely.
- The way we travel. People are discovering their immediate surroundings again. We’ve realized we don’t need to travel to the other side of the world to experience something special. People are increasingly recognizing the environmental benefits of staying closer to home, too.
- The way we do business. Digital communication and collaboration tools have proved to be very effective. Face-to-face contact will always remain important, but flying to Rio for a few business meetings seems like something from the past.