From time to time we hear some people say that in today’s Digital Age brands are now irrelevant. We usually find that their understanding of a brand extends little beyond a logo and an advertising campaign. In a recent edition of Forbes, David Cooperstein debunked this notion and highlighted why brands matter. He said, “I think we are at the beginning of a new brand journey. This is one that reacquaints the brand with the business strategy, elevates the CMO and marketing team to the level of business strategist, and reconnects sight, sound and motion but in a digital context, and creates differentiation beyond the campaign. I feel good vibes from brand and creative folks that they get the need to reinforce their brand across all touchpoints, and that advertising is merely one part of the process.”
While place branding is being successfully adopted around the world, there are some who still mistakenly regard it as a fad. In examining their critique, I often find that they don’t really understand the concept. They particularly don’t consider its benefits in providing a strategic framework.
I really like the perspective that my friend Malcolm Allan at Colliers International in London gave in my book on this observation. “Place branding is a relatively new discipline and its small but growing band of adherents and practitioners have often been received with disdain and disbelief by people from established professions in town planning, economic development and tourism, numbers of whom regard it as a passing fad, just a new way of sexing-up traditional approaches to city planning, marketing and place making. As a qualified practicing town planner and economic development professional for over thirty years, I see it very differently. For me the key word is strategy as in place, city or development brand strategy. I have often been struck by the power of major lasting brands to meet the changing needs of their customers whilst remaining true to their purpose and values – they provide a much needed (and proven) strategic guidance system.”
I know that when cities and other places recognize the power of a brand strategy they are then able to be more competitive and enjoyable. Achieving this takes a strategic guidance system that reaches across the city and takes a holistic view of its relationship with customers.