Regions and cities compete to attract young talent, potential inhabitants, tourists, businesses and investors. What can you do to ensure that a neighbourhood, city or region – in brief a ‘place’ – is attractive and retains its appeal? As an urban agency we position places as strong brands. One of the ways we do this is through place branding. Which is always based on: what does the place offer? What is its identity? What are the users’ needs? Led by this, we team up with residents, visitors and businesses to develop a future vision they all share, and a place branding strategy. The goal: a powerful place brand. A brand that you love, where you feel at home, want to belong, want to be seen, and help to create. A place that, to paraphrase Jan Gehl, offers more than you expect.
Successful place branding can put a neighbourhood, city or region firmly on the map, connect local actors and promote collaboration, boost residents’ and entrepreneurs’ sense of belonging and pride in an area, and guide the next phase in its development. We believe that participation is always a prerequisite for a successful place branding: we make the city together. A strategy that involves working closely with all key actors in the city identifies what the brand stands for and encourages the growth of a community of enthusiastic ambassadors eager to promote the brand.
Strategy on a sheet of A3
Place branding is rooted in brand identity. By teaming up with residents, companies, visitors, governments and other stakeholders we define the unique mix of core values that tell the story of a place. This feeds into an engaging, viable and widely supported brand identity. The next step involves working closely with users to pinpoint the needs to be served by the area. The final stage focuses on exploring future scenarios with the input of all key actors. Identity, needs and future vision are summarised on a single A3-size sheet: the Urban Canvas. This handy one-page tool visualises the place branding strategy and clearly sets out the game plan.
A cross-media campaign is set up to promote the brand and to develop the place branding strategy. We employ the most effective media tools, from social media and PR campaigns to smart apps and events. Through placemaking, we home in on the most effective activities and interventions to build the identity of a place. And, through placetesting, boldly experiment with temporary initiatives and concepts.
One example of a successful placebranding strategy is the one we developed for Hulst, an historic fortress town in Zeeland. In partnership with the city council, residents and businesses, we unlocked the city’s DNA and developed a brand that resonated with all stakeholders, and the place branding strategy. Another interesting case was the rebranding of a former railway station in Rotterdam, which you can read about here Rotterdamse Hofbogen.
Municipalities, property owners, developers and all other city makers who want to discover the unique identity of a neighbourhood, city or region and create a place as a unique brand. Interested in place branding? Contact us, let’s talk! We look forward to working with you.