Place Branding – The new “Great Game”

Every once in awhile you read a paper that has the ability to crystallize your thoughts and put them into a frame of reference that creates order from chaos. For me, “Place Branding: The State of the Art” is just such a paper.

Dr. Peter van Ham is the Director of Global Governance Research at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations “Clingendael” in the Hague and a professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. He is a prolific author and speaker. His biography is extremely impressive. But, even more impressive is his grasp on the historical context of place branding and the emerging role it will play in an interdependent global economy.

Here area few quotes from the paper that I found particularly thought provoking:

  • “Place branding goes beyond mere slogans or old-fashioned ad campaigns; it involves more than gloss or spin or the placing of a territory on the map as an attractive tourist destination.”
  • “Image and reputation may be said to have become essential parts of the state’s strategic equity. Similar to commercial brands, image and reputation are built on factors such as trust and customer satisfaction.”
  • “… branding has become essential to create value in the relationship between territorial entities and individuals.”
  • “Place branding is also required to make a country’s image work for its economy and its citizens.”
  • “Globalization and harmonizing effects of European integration put further pressure on territorial entities to develop, manage, and leverage their brand equity. To stand out from the crowd and capture significant mind share and market share, place branding has become essential.”
  • “Place branding is no static game… the art of politics pursued through old-style diplomacy has been shifting to encompass the new art of brand building and reputation management. This logic applies to all economic and political actors around the world, no exception.”
  • “The bottom line remains that the dynamics of international politics are affected by place branding, and that a new ‘great game’ of politics is emerging, this time not about oil and trade routes, but about image and reputation.”

Please take time to read the full paper. It helps underscore why the Strengthening Brand America initiative is so important to long-term economic vitality and sustainable prosperity of the United States. In my opinion, it establishes a clarion call for the economic development community to invest the time required to master the art of place branding as a way to improve Brand America’s competitiveness for global foreign direct inflow investment dollars.

I’d appreciate knowing your thoughts on the importance of place brand mastery. Leave a comment.

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