Adam Joyce discusses his thoughts on place branding challenges

KEITH  BAILEY KEITH BAILEY Senior Insight Advisor, Transport Focus

There are just a few short days left until the City Nation Place Awards shortlist is announced for 2020! We took the opportunity to ask one of our jurors, Adam Joyce, VP of Acceleration, Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, to share a few of his thoughts around the key challenges facing place branders as we head in to the new decade.

CNP: Why do you think that it’s important to benchmark and celebrate well-crafted place branding and place marketing strategies?

AJ: To recognize those who do it well is important to those who deserve it. As well this benchmarking and celebration helps to show others what’s possible and set others up for success in  the profession. It also contributes to elevating the profession and substantiate the distinctions specific to place branding & place marketing.


CNP: Is there anything that you’re particularly hoping to see as a member of our jury? Or a top tip for entry writing that will grab your attention?

AJ: I really like seeing the difference that has been made as a result of the efforts and campaigns. Getting to understand the story behind the story and how it is impacting the place and the people – locals and those who the efforts are directed at.

CNP: How do you think places should be incorporating sustainability into their strategic thinking?

AJ: Big question and  I don’t think it’s a should; you just do it. Everything from environmental stewardship, types of materials involved, and employing an anthropological consideration for enduring ease of care come into the thinking that informs the strategy. It’s intrinsic.

CNP: What is the greatest challenge when it comes to engaging citizens in your place brand vision?

AJ: Getting their time and attention such that they are willing to be involved in a conversation. That leads to having them feel listened to, understood and that we then collaborate to create alignment. I think it is extremely difficult to take multiple viewpoints and have them feel heard, understood and  included.

CNP: Do you think many places do a good job of leveraging their diaspora as ambassadors for your place?

AJ: I think the example I saw in West Hollywood this year set the benchmark for me.

CNP: Do you think that the increase in experiential-based tourism and the rise of the millennial traveller has made destination marketing easier or harder? Why?

AJ: It has and is raising the bar and becoming more integrated into the local life. I think it’s too early to tell. There is definitely backlash out there and at the same time there is equally many places, destinations that welcome the visitor on this more engaged level.

CNP: Do places need to transform their approach to securing funding for place branding strategies? Are there any examples of innovative approached to funding that you have noticed?

AJ: Yes is the short answer and 3 top reasons for this in my opinion are: i) broader & deeper community involvement, ii) aligning mixed interests of politics, commercialization, environmental, cultural, etc… iii) ideation and solution engagement is much stronger and enduring  when more funding sources are included.

CNP: Do you have any tips for place marketers trying to create a communications platform that stands out from the crowd?

AJ: Patience, openness/ inclusion, frequency and responsiveness seem to be key in all human communication.

CNP: Do you think that place branders are improving their usage of social platforms? What would your top tip be to leverage social media more effectively?

AJ: Challenging one, and for me it’s about being proactive, positive and involved in the dialogue. Do not try to control the conversation and be a great listener.

CNP: Design is so much more than a logo – how do you believe place branding strategies should incorporate great design thinking?

AJ: Focus on simple, be collaborative and iterative. 


CNP: Given the long-term vision and collaborative approaches required for effective place brand strategy, what is the most important skill for place branding teams – creativity or diplomacy?

AJ: Both are equally important skills, and I think creativity enhanced through diplomacy and diplomacy requires creativity. 

CNP: If you had a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel anywhere – all expenses paid – where would you go?

AJ: A month through the Indonesian Islands.

Don't miss the announcement of the City Nation Place Awards shortlist on Thursday 3 October!

The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.