Place branding methodology
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
In the journal “How to catch a city? The concept and measurement of place brand”, Sebastien Zenker talks about methods of measuring brand and identity of places. More specifically how there isn’t an effective way to measure and create that sort of brand. What he proposes is in order to create an effective brand of a city or location you should take into an account two things. One is the physical attributes of a given place and the other is how people perceive this given space. He uses the example of Berlin and Hamburg to illustrate this. While “factually” Berlin has a greater wooded area, Hamburg is seen as the greener city.
To develop a place or city brand is a long and difficult process. This combined with the idea that place branding is a new concept and is easy to see why good and reliable data is hard to come by. That’s why the author proposes a model for work that involves using different technique to make an effective place brand and finishes with the idea that “a case study of the place physics, analysis of the media, or qualitative research about the place communication and word of mouth could still aid the general understanding of a place brand, since the place identity exerts a strong influence over the perception of a place” or in other words: more research is needed to create an effective approach.
fig. 1: One of the most famous city branding projects. Image source: i-love-new-york-branding-logo.jpg
The key point here is that a person’s opinion is just as important as the actual offering. This idea is extended further by Simon Anholt’s journal about Place Branding from 2010 – “How to make a good story”. While Sebastien stipulates that human perception should be used in accordance with a place’s physical attributes, Anholt hints that keeping people interested is an important part of the whole process.
Simon looks at how news from a particular region can shape an opinion. An interesting take on this idea is that negative news usually attracts more attention than the positive ones, but he thinks that this is the case not because people crave negative news, but because in general shocking and negative news are just interesting and have a more captivating narrative.
fig. 2: An example model for place branding strategy. Image source: 48368edc76f08d810ac08f479e0afdd0.jpg
A negative news is more likely to shape the opinion of the masses, and yet at the same time the stronger, the brand image is, the harder it is to break its reputation. [Example is given with America and Denmark and different actions] The ideas presented in the journal paint a very interesting picture that doesn’t just apply to the place or city branding, but can also be applied to different design disciplines.
1: By creating a space or place we have to give it strong aspects that would dominate it, so much so that…
2: … if some negative event creates an unneeded negative idea, it wouldn’t affect it as much. That said avoid negative publicity as it shape people’s opinions really fast.
3: And last but not least – keep it interesting. People are social features that need stimulation at all times. But in a world filled with an amazing variety of stimulants, we get bored very easily. And if this happens we seek new stimuli. Create an interesting, captivating and ever evolving atmosphere to keep that interest on peak levels.
Like Sebastien’s opinion and other researchers’ interest in the topic of place branding, more stable and reliable date is needed to make sure that these models and ideas work. By extending research methods and observing people and behaviors, little by little the data becomes more apparent, but because every person is unique what might work with some, might not be as effective with others.