Last week I was reminded of the fragility of place brands and how they need to foster deep community roots from the start of their brand planning process. The marketing manager of a small destination marketing organization (DMO) told me that his city had completed a brand strategy during the past two years which had been well received. But with the election of a new mayor, they had abandoned the strategy. Fortunately, this was not one of our clients.
This discussion brought home to me that from time to time people who are essential to the vitality of a destination brand move on. The result can be that their replacement wants to “do things their way”. It goes without saying that community-based brands have to be built following a highly consultative and transparent process - along with broad buy-in and a shared sense of ownership.
The brand does not belong to any one person or organization. And a new mayor should not be empowered to arbitrarily reject a strategy that community members and key stakeholders contributed considerable blood, sweat and tears in defining. The marketing manager told me that there is now deep cynicism and aversion among stakeholders and staff toward starting a new brand planning process just two years after the last effort.
The mayor doesn't realize that a place brand is more than the logo he didn't like and it belongs to everyone in the community to a greater or lesser extent. It should never be established in such a way that it is reliant on one individual – even if they are Mayor.
Sponsored by: Book: Destination Branding for Small Cities