Does place branding need a rebrand? Part 2

This is part two of a mini-series debating whether place branding needs a new name. The issue arose from the fact that use of the term ‘branding’ carries the risk that the uninformed will equate the discipline largely with advertising. We wanted to explore whether giving it a new name would help to overcome this.

Last week, in part one, Günter Soydanbay spelled out the key difference between ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ – one which is so often misinterpreted.

He said: “If we are under the illusion that our objective is to create ‘a brand’, then all we get would be a yummy logo, catchy tagline, and an over-promising campaign.”

Bill Baker, president of Total Destination Marketing, shares another viewpoint…

“I agree with the sentiment that there are many misunderstandings relating to the branding of places. I also think it’s true that far too many places start out with the idea of branding and mistakenly have a narrow view of what branding is. They don’t fully engage it as a powerful strategic guidance system.

Many set out on their brand journey because they think it’s time for a new look or a snappy tagline or slogan. I think that an even more common pitfall is to consider it as a new campaign. I think that many states and nations are particularly guilty of this. They then proceed to announce a new ‘brand’ every few years.

But despite these challenges, I don’t believe that there’s a need to rebrand the concept of place branding.

We have to keep in mind that many on the client side who are involved in place branding projects may be encountering the concepts of branding for the first time in their careers.

Hence, so much of our everyday work at TDM has always been education and building the capacity of our client communities. I believe this is where the emphasis needs to be. Rebranding or introducing a new vocabulary may simply add to the confusion and will still require intensive educational focus.”

The final post in this series will be published next week.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments – or tweet us!

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