I attended a lovely event last week where a client was celebrating one year of successful trading. It was a bold venture funded by the local council and success was in the air. All the local dignitaries were in attendance, rightly proud of their venture.
The event allowed me to chat with a range of people in the public and private sector who all have an interest in promoting the place as a destination for business, investment and leisure. Everyone is very keen to build on the success of the venture and use it as a springboard to promote the destination as a whole. It reminded me that building place brands comes with its own set of unique challenges.
We have worked with a number of place brands and there is no doubt that you usually find a host of committed people who really do have the best interests of the place at heart. We have also unearthed a number of important clues about how a place brand is built successfully.
The temptation is design a new logo and initiate a new creative campaign. Often the logo change is for good reason as the local authority seek to indicate the distinction between them and the place itself. It is an understandable route but dangerous.
There is not time here to cover everything we have learned but here are a few big thoughts…
The story of a place is told by hundreds of different voices. Their version of that story is rarely the same. It is essential you define your story so all those voices can tell it consistently.
Create the story from within, which means engaging public and private sector in the definition of the story. It has to be based on reality not marketing puffery or spin.
Test, test, test, the brand proposition and the story with target audiences so you are sure it is compelling, different and true to the place.
Engage stakeholders in the development of an alignment plan that ensures that the experience when people visit or seek to do business, is aligned to the brand proposition.
Changing the logo is clearly a quicker and easier route but building an experience that matches the brand promise takes much more than that.