15 November 2009

Place Branding: New Tools for Economic Development

Place Branding: New Tools for Economic Development

by George Allen, Design Management Review Spring 2007

The principle that cities and regions can be branded is a natural extension of corporate brand theory. George Allen, using several examples, explains how this reality offers new opportunities for attracting economic development and tourism. He also reviews the unique dimensions of place branding that make it an especially challenging task.

The idea that physical places can be branded is a natural extension of corporate
brand theory. Indeed, it is generally accepted that places, as defined by culture, politics, and geography, are increasingly seen to be products, as subject
to brand management practices as a cup of coffee or a car. For brand and design managers, this opens up new opportunities within the world’s number- one industry—tourism—and within larger economic development initiatives.

However, the branding of places is not without its unique challenges, whichgo far beyond a compelling marketing campaign or a new logo. While the place-as-product analogy provides a useful filter through which to understand a place-brand approach, there remain fundamental differences in the implementation of brand theory in the place environment. These include, among others, the role of government organizations, the difficulty in defining the entity to be branded (city, region, or country), the challenges of aligning internal stakeholders (residents, business owners, frontline workers), and the difficulty of sustaining brand consistency and resources over time in the face of competing societal, as opposed to corporate, interests.