What's the the Trickiest Part of Place Branding?

I used to think that positioning was the trickiest part of place and destination branding. However, I now believe that getting the RFP or Expression of Interest, scope of work and agency selection processes right in the first place is probably the most problematic. This can send the project off the rails from the start.

Many communities do not fully understand the nuances of branding and are somewhat tentative and imprecise in how they ask for the services required to undertake the process. Most are addressing the issue for the first time in their career. While others believe that all they need is a new logo, tagline or advertising campaign. This view has been validated in recent months as we notice a series of poor branding outcomes for communities. They announce weak or bland positioning and cheerleading taglines masquerading as brands that are only designed to make locals feel warm and fuzzy, but are doomed to fail with external audiences.

There are instances where advertising, web design and communications agencies have successfully pitched for the development of place branding strategies. Unfortunately, few of them have any tourism, placemaking, brand planning or place branding credentials, but that didn’t stop them from being appointed to their first jobs in the field.

Branding is strategic! There's also a world of difference between defining a city’s brand and that of a brand for a commercial enterprise. There’s also a huge gap between the specialist services and expertise of brand consultants and the providers of marketing services when it comes to brand planning.

Yes, creativity and designs are important. And marketing service agencies are great at web design, online marketing and advertising. But more important is establishing a solid brand foundation and the strategic guidance toolkit to inform your operations, marketing and experience delivery. We have even seen cases where cities have simultaneously issued RFPs for web design and brand planning. Of course, they then merged their requirements and selected what they considered to be the best agency to tackle the combined assignments. That’s right. The painter will design the house as well as paint it!

Produced by: Total Destination Marketing

Best Selling Book:  Destination Branding for Small Cities

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Best-Selling Book: Destination Branding for Small Cities

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