Principles of Place Branding

I’ve done more than a bit of jabbing at the idea of nations, states and cities “branding” themselves. Admittedly, most of my experience in this area lies in branding businesses where success is measured by your impact on your customers and their lives. The other day I noticed an email address in my bloglet subscription list from one of the principles of Placebrands, a firm specializing in branding various parts of our globe.

They have a page that outlines their 8 principles of placebranding. It certainly makes sense when you realize that the goal may not even be more tourists, more industry or more trade. It may be as simple as making the residents of the place feel better about themselves.

Here are a few of their principles:

2. Truth Places often suffer from an image which is out of date, unfair, unbalanced, or cliché-ridden. It is one of the tasks of place branding to ensure that the true, full, contemporary picture is communicated in a focused and effective way; never to compromise the truth or glamourise it irresponsibly.

6. Complexity and simplicity
The reality of places is intricate and often contradictory, yet the essence of effective branding is simplicity and directness. It is one of the harder tasks of place branding to do justice to the richness and diversity of places and their peoples, yet to communicate this to the world in ways which are simple, truthful, motivating, appealing and memorable.

8. Things take time
Place branding is a long-term endeavour. It need not and should not cost more than any place can comfortably afford, but is neither a quick fix nor a short-term campaign. Devising an appropriate place brand strategy and implementing it thoroughly takes time and effort, wisdom and patience; if properly done, the long term advantages, both tangible and intangible, will outweigh the costs by far.

Going by the words on their web site, I’d say Placebrands is a sincere group of people helping to make their clients feel better about themselves and helping to change the way the rest of us think of their clients. What do you think?

Placebrands – Principles

2 thoughts on “Principles of Place Branding

  1. fouroboros

    Hmmm. Haven’t seen too much jabbing, but I’m new to your blog–very nice by the way.

    Anyway, David, I’d say for those that hold the view of branding as the suit you put on to get a date, yeah, city and state efforts usually fail miserably.

    Most city initiatives dumb down or lower the bar for their searches for identity–lowest acceptable common denominator. Total and often laughable wastes.

    But don’t poo-poo the effects that an affirmative, criss-disciplinary *shared purpose* can have on Economic Development AND community pride. They are complementary, they must be.

    I work with city management and Fortune 500. Guess what? They both want the same thing: a place that attracts talent and promotes ambition, merit, virtue and growth. In sum, a visceral experience that’s difficult to quantify in some ways, but definitely shows up on balance sheets and tax bases in measurable ways.

    Branding, as often malpracticed, is a powerful concept with a misused name. Brand is really just community well defined–a company and it’s products and consumers, or a town and assets and it’s residents.

    Hey, you asked what I thought…



  2. Andreas

    To me the brand is far more intangible than what Fouroboros suggests – it is the image, the icon, the guts about something – a place or country in this context. At Branding Greece ( we are igniting a debate on how to brand Greece beyond “the place and its citizens” asset.


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