Eindhoven have taken the world stage by storm, winning the 2018 City Nation Place Award for Place Brand of the Year. Peter Kentie, Managing Director at Eindhoven 365, took the time to share the thinking behind their repositioning, and to explore their innovative approaches to funding and stakeholder engagement.
CNP: Why do you think it’s important to have a conference that brings together place branding practitioners from across the world to discuss the biggest challenges and emerging opportunities for cities, regions and nations working on their place brand strategy?
PK: The beauty of CNP is that it invites global places of different sizes and functions: from cities, to regions, provinces to nations even continents. All sharing each other’s marketing strategies, tactical executions and operational activities - this broad approach makes the conference very worthwhile.
CNP: How has your organisation or team’s role changed over the last five years? And what major trend or issue do you predict will impact on your strategy in the coming years?
PK: The role as such did not change that much; the issue is how to measure the impact of the organisation and the effect on our municipality and region. What are the KPIs - if any - and how is the effect on the different stakeholders quantified and explained to them. That discussion in our society is getting more vivid and asks for clear metrics and an explanation of the chosen strategy and execution.
CNP: Authenticity is perhaps one of the biggest buzzwords in place branding – what do you think is the key to creating an authentic place brand?
PK: For Eindhoven, the key was not to look for brand values and to focus more on the mentality of the city. What drives a city? What is the secret formula that makes things happen? We found out it was unconventional thinking and we focused on that, resulting in an open-source and co-created branding and marketing programme.
CNP: Why is it crucial for places to explore more innovative approaches to funding?
PK: The funding aspect is also based on creative thinking. In our city we did not want – as a strategy – to ask stakeholders, including businesses, upfront for an investment in the marketing program. So we aimed for a self-generating source of income that drives the campaigns and activities for attracting talent, tourism and businesses. Yes, of course some public funding is needed, let alone to formalize the structure of an external city marketing organisation. So being creative in financing creates freedom and room for manoeuvring the projects without making the organisation dependent on business grants or public money.
CNP: Do you think places could be using data more effectively to inform and shape place branding strategy?
PK: In Eindhoven, we built a smart city dashboard where outcome and insights are shared with the place branding stakeholders and the municipality. The data set among others comprises mobile phone location data to create an accurate and concise image of visits to our city.