YouTube As A Place Branding Tool

Ed Burghard

Place Branding Done Well

We are all looking for a cost effective way to promote our communities for business attraction, retention and expansion.  Local economic development budgets have been cut to the bone and non-traditional ways of communicating are being explored with renewed enthusiasm.  But, video seems to continue to be an overlooked medium.  And, I am wondering why.

My good friend and fellow founding Board member of the Nemacolin Energy Institute, Jim Samuel, recently sent me a link to a branding video produced to provide a very visual look at Israel.

Here is the link – Israel Video

He was impressed with how Israel was able to position itself as an ideal location to consider for capital investment. It is a framing of Israel that does a nice job to offset the negative image portrayed by the media.

The film accomplishes this by sharing facts and case studies that make you challenge any negative perceptions of Israel. The video acknowledges the world’s misperception of Israel as a war torn location with significant risk of operation. It addresses this misperception head-on. It makes no apologies and provides logical reasons why Israel has developed a unique sense of entrepreneurial thinking. In fact, the video makes a compelling argument that this penchant for innovation is at the very heart of Israel’s survival.

I think Jim has a keen eye and a better sense of recognizing effective branding then he gives himself credit for. This is a very aspirational video that makes a mind and heart connection with the viewer. It is an excellent introduction to the nation as a location to do business from.

Importantly, this is the kind of video your community could create for itself to help address misperceptions and create a compelling reason why it should be considered on the short list of locations for site selection.

Other Examples

Israel isn’t the only location to use video to introduce itself to potential capital investors and site selectors. Here is a select list of a few videos you might be interested in checking out.

Pure Michigan Business Attraction                                     

City of St. Alberta Business Attraction

State of Ohio 2005

Land of Dreams

New New York State

Enterprise Florida

Why Phoenix Channel

The Promise of Sheboygan County

Oklahoma City – Dell’s Search For a Site

City of Fremont – Shop Local

Big Science in Buffalo, NY

Surprisingly though, it is not easy to find videos that help introduce locations to potential investors. Hopefully I have missed a number of great ones. I encourage you to add a comment with a link to any missed video.

This may be one of the greatest untapped marketing opportunities for communities. Did you know?

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month.
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month.
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US.
  • Your YouTube video has a unique URL that you can use on your website and in email correspondence to encourage targeted viewership.

The most common hurdle I have heard impeding use of YouTube is cost of video production.

But, making a video is not as challenging or costly as it used to be. For example, videos can be made with smart phones. Imagine collaborating with your local high school or college to run a contest for the best video representing your community as a place to do business. Provide appropriate direction, and offer a nominal prize for the winner. You will soon have a cost effective video you proudly can use as your community’s calling card. If you’d rather use a professional to design and create your video, talk to your local advertising agencies and ask about the possibility of them producing a video for you on a pro bono basis. You may be surprised at their willingness in exchange for appropriate exposure with the major employers (your Board members and donors) in your community. If you have a Travel & Tourism organization in your community consider collaborating with them to share the cost. Net, cost should not be an insurmountable hurdle.


First, if you know of any additional videos that should be cited, please write a comment and include a link to them. The more we can share, the better we will all understand this communication channel.

Second, let’s talk about why YouTube is not being used more in economic development. What are some of the driving reasons for not leveraging video to introduce a community?

Third, if you have used video to introduce your community to site selectors and companies, what was your experience (positive or negative)?

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