What Are the Benefits of Place Branding?

August 3, 2016

A well-conceived brand strategy can provide increased awareness, competitiveness, effectiveness and efficiency in how the city is presented by various city agencies. It sets the guidelines for how the location should communicate and the delivery of experiences for target audiences.

If there is a gap between the reality of the city or downtown and the expectations and perceptions held by outsiders, then a strategy is needed to bridge this gap. Regardless of whether people hold an overly positive or negative image, the city must address the situation since both of these scenarios can cause problems. An overly positive destination image can lead to disappointment, while a negative one will lead prospects to spend their time and money elsewhere and possibly perpetuate negative word of mouth.

When individual tactical decisions are driving destination marketing programs, it’s time for the intervention and strategic discipline of a brand strategy to coordinate those disparate activities and make the most of scarce resources. The materials used in your city’s marketing portfolio may look great, but without a brand strategy it will be a matter of luck as to whether there is consistency in their look, story, and content.  So often the ad of the month syndrome is at play where destination marketers constantly change their communications in the hope of finding a message that will strike the right chord.  Brand planning is the ideal way to avoid this kind of marketing schizophrenia where there is no consistency or clarity to the way the place presents itself.  It may be time to develop a brand strategy when you detect one or more of the following conditions:

  • The city is not leading with its most distinctive and competitive strengths.
  • The need to overcome a dated or inaccurate image.
  • New infrastructure developments, revitalization programs or a major event are likely to redefine the place.
  • The messages from the city and its partners lack focus, consistency or market relevance.
  • There is a gap between the city’s promise and its reality.
  • Resources are being applied in an inefficient or uncoordinated manner.

The Benefits for City Marketing Organizations

Downtown, tourism and economic development marketers and their partners

Provides a strategic focus based on competitive advantage and ways to connect with key audiences.

  1. Fosters a unified and cooperative approach to build the city’s reputation and create a prosperous business climate.
  2. Provides a decision-making framework to build a strong, identity and avoid contradictory and changing messages.
  3. Results in a higher return on investment (ROI) from marketing investments.
  4. Captures the strengths and personality of the place in ways that enables all stakeholders to use similar, consistent and compelling messages.
  5. Provides product and business development opportunities.

The Benefits for External Customers

Visitors and relocation prospects

  1. Provides peace of mind by increasing trust and reducing uncertainty.
  2. Establishes a clear and valued point of difference in the consumer’s mind.
  3. Saves time and effort in making choices.
  4. Reflects well on customers for being associated with the place.
  5. Taps into their needs and desires.
  6. Provides perceived added value and benefits.

The Benefits for Your Community

  1. Creates a unifying focus to aid all organizations that rely on the reputation and image of the city for all or part of their livelihood.
  2. Addresses out of date, inaccurate or unbalanced perceptions.
  3. Leads to improved stakeholder income, profit margins, and tax revenues.
  4. Increases the ability to attract, recruit, and retain talented people.
  5. Enhances civic pride.

An added benefit is that a healthy city identity and reputation can aid citizens being welcomed in the “right” circles, gaining seats on influential committees, attract awards, win bids to host events, and attract conferences.

A brand strategy will bring increased effectiveness and efficiency to your city’s marketing investments and the way that it presents itself, as well as providing many unexpected benefits for a wide variety of stakeholders.

© Destination Branding for Small Cities – Second Edition: Baker

NEW: Destination Branding for Small Cities - Second Edition by Bill Baker is drawing praise from business leaders, place branders and practitioners worldwide. It’s a must read primer that demystifies city branding and provides affordable, proven tools, templates and checklists to build a successful destination and place brands. Worldwide sales via Amazon.com

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