Smashing place branding
Mariusz Pleban, 28.11.2011
Rzeszów, French fries, Chicago or soap – both places and products should be distinctive. And distinctive to such an extent as to be able to intrigue, lure and never be forgotten. What's more they should “force” us to talk about them incessantly to our friends and colleagues. In other words, they should be like nails – easy to drive in, difficult to remove.
Lesson 1 – Place Logotypes are just the tip of the tip of the iceberg!
Many place logos are strikingly similar. But graphics is just the beginning of hard and painful journey towards success, a journey whose plan is based on Kotler's marketing mix. All four “Ps” included. Introducing a brand into the place market works according to the same rules as in case of the FMCG market. We should be constantly aware of the imminent (from the statistical point of view) failure, since, as Martin Lindstrom noticed, up to 97% of emerging brands in Japan sink into oblivion shortly after their launch. However, it's more difficult to withdraw a city form the market than a normal product. But it is easy to blot it out of the memory. Therefore, not only colors, but also the content is very important.
Lesson 2 - Message needs to satisfy the demands!
Which city do “wine and perfume”* evoke associations with? And how about “engineering”* Where does the word “design”* direct your thoughts to? But before you decide to make your city a fashion capital you need to think whether you have sufficient grounds to do that. People only believe in what they see. Does Wales makes you think of high-tech? Hardly unlikely – the more probable associations are: farms, scarcity of the Starbucks coffeehouses (how would an American cope with that?) and being frequently out of range. The Welsh apparently know how to look at themselves from a distance, since all the aforementioned associations are precisely what they included in their ad campaign. There's no denying they are also quite cunning.
A similar strategy was adopted by Poland a few years ago. Poles published a series of ads, in which Polish plumbers reassured the French that their domestic labor market is not threatened by an influx of cheap workforce (“I'm staying home”) and encouraged them to visit Poland.
Lesson 3 – Try to assume the traveler’s perspective!
If there is an absolute and ultimate answer to questions like: “how should I promote my city?”, “what is most important for the visitors?”, “will Angelina Jolie finally give me her number? (I admit, I may have gone a bit too far with that one...), it's probably the menu on websites for travelers. If you specialize in place branding and you've never heard of www.tripadvisor.com, www.concierge.com or www.booking.com better quit your job. I'm serious. Try knitting instead. These websites really show places. They provide numerous links to social networking services, such as www.flickr.com. Any serious traveler would examine the place on flickr before actually going there.
Or consult youtube. And the facebook profile of a traveler who happens to be his/her acquaintance.
Get ready for more lessons about hammering nails soon. Meanwhile, if your interested in the subject, read the article about the “euro hammer”:
*Answers to questions from lesson 2
Wine and perfume – France. Engineering – Germany. Design – Italy. If you have different associations it's probably because all you get to watch is the North Korean Central Television...