Does Place Branding Work?

Ed BurghardI love a challenging question and one of the more challenging is the question of success measurement. If you invest more time and money in place branding, can you reasonably expect a return on investment? It is a great question and definitely not simple to answer.

First a caveat, the answer needs to assume a well-executed place branding effort. There are certainly many poorly executed attempts and just like in product and corporate branding they end up being a failure. Poor execution rarely leads to success. But, if we assume a quality execution, what evidence exists that suggests place branding is a successful approach to creating economic prosperity?

Some Great Reading

Here are some resources I found that provide you a degree of insight –

My personal belief is that place branding does in fact work; but, there are far too many projects started that either lack the appropriate expertise or adequate funding to be successful. Project failure leads to general distrust of the process and a unwillingness to invest in supporting it.

One additional contributing factor is the failure to recognize the role of product development in place branding. Product performance is a key criteria for success and that requires the proactive management of product development to ensure a place promise remains relevant and competitive. In place branding, product development can be thought of as generally including public policy reform, infrastructure investment and asset creation. It is important a place consistently deliver its promise in an authentic way.

It Takes More Than a Logo and Tagline

I have read a lot of blog posts and articles that state the obvious – clever logos and tag lines are not sufficient to win. They aren’t sufficient to win in product or corporate branding either. The tactics and the leadership challenges are clearly different for place branding than for product and corporate branding. But, the tactics and leadership challenges are different when comparing the branding of prescription pharmaceuticals and soap. What is important is that the branding principles are essentially the same. Lessons learned in product and corporate branding can be reapplied in place branding.


Feel free to add your personal story related to place branding (success or failure) by leaving a comment on this post. The more we share our experience with each other the better results we each will achieve.

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