Would you take on a project that’s got a 86% failure rate, is notoriously difficult and will have a budget almost guaranteed to run into the millions? Welcome to the wonderful world of place branding.

By definition, place branding is the branding of a nation, region or city with a specific identity and then communicating it to a target market. Globalisation has now meant that it’s become more and more important for places to define themselves and where they differentiate from others.

Places are often regarded as one of the hardest entities to brand. Unlike say a phone company or a cosmetics brand, you need to work with a very broad collection of stake holders, with conflicting ideas about what the place should say.

With this in mind, how can you create a city brand as successful as San Fransisco, New York or Paris? Primarily what these places do really well, is to focus on marketing their history, lifestyle, culture, diversity and the quality of the place. They then form partnerships with local organisations and government to enhance their infrastructure, making sure they deliver on their brand promise.

With summer holidays fast approaching, you’ll probably be aware that a few cities have a noticeable ‘brand buzz’ about them. This ‘European City Brand Barometer’ measures the strength of cities’ brands and assesses how well they use branding to exploit their assets. Interestingly, one of the categories shows a set of cities who’s brand strength actually exceeds what their asset strength suggests they deserve. Notably Berlin, followed by Stockholm, Liverpool, Prague and Amsterdam.

What these cities are doing, is successfully selling a story which exceeds the experience. This is where place branding is most powerful, in working to attract more talent, business and culture to the city they actually start to improve it.

Clearly place branding is a mammoth task, but it is immensely interesting and if you are lucky enough to be successful, you will create some of the most powerful and valuable brands in the world.

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