logo Claire Farrow Editorial Director, City Nation Place
Insights and trends shaping the City Nation Place Global agenda

Insights and trends shaping the City Nation Place Global agenda

A summary of our conversations with delegates from around the world, to see how the City Nation Place Global conference will address your own challenges and define your next opportunities

What are the challenges that keep you awake at night? How have your priorities evolved since last year? Where are the opportunities for place branding and marketing moving forwards?

These are some of the questions we’ve been asking the international place branding and marketing community. Our goal: to ensure the agenda for City Nation Place Global meets the most pressing needs of our loyal and growing audience.

From Salvador to Stockholm, Lesotho to Luxembourg, this is a snapshot of the perspectives that are shaping the City Nation Place Global agenda in 2018.

4 perennial challenges: funding, stakeholders, momentum, consistency

Across the board, whether nations and cities have already embarked on their place branding/marketing journey or they’re just getting started, the key challenges persist. How do we build and keep momentum? How much funding is needed to really move the needle and how do you measure ROI? How do we manage stakeholders? How do we maintain consistency despite political transitions (and in some cases turmoil)? Tourism, investment or talent; which is the most important to focus on when building a place’s brand?

Without a doubt, those tasked with a place brand remit need to be determined diplomats as well as creative communicators. Listening to many voices and still being able to move forward with clarity is an art. Balancing priorities and nurturing the interest of diverse stakeholders to keep them on board is not a job for the faint hearted. But it is possible and when well executed can reap rewards for all. 

What the place branders and marketeers we spoke with told us they want more than anything is to learn from each other’s experiences.

Overcoming adversity, building resilience and bolstering citizen engagement

Another key theme that emerged from our research is a desire to understand how place branding and marketing can help cities, nations and regions overcome adversity and even reinvent their reputations on the world stage. 

What are the conditions that have to be in place to make this possible? Can grass roots, citizen driven activities provide the stimulation needed? If so, how do you empower citizens to get involved?

In the same vein, places are keen to understand both how a place’s brand can bolster its ability to overcome economic, environmental or political adversity, as well as where place branding fits with resilience and citizen engagement.

Content & fake news

While digital is now integral to many place’s strategies, questions still remain. In particular there’s a feeling that everything is changing so fast that what worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow. For instance, how do you use social media to reach new audiences and optimise targeting without being intrusive? When attention spans keep shrinking, how do you reinvent storytelling so that you grab and keep people’s interest? What does 5 second storytelling look like for place brands?

Within this environment of change, what’s clear is that content is more important than ever. How can content be used to differentiate a place’s messages? How can content be used to influence? How can citizens and place brand ambassadors help to amply the reach and impact of content?

Promoted by social media’s vulnerabilities, fake news is still a hot topic, with both countries and cities feeling that they are suffering from its impact. How can place branding help a country or city brand manage fake news that could not only damage its reputation, but also potentially undermine its security? 

Culture, sports, arts, festivals and major events

Notably, there appears to be more interest than ever in the impact art, films, sports and festivals can have on the way a place is perceived on the world stage. How event activations can create citizen engagement with place brands was mentioned as an issue of interest, as was approaches to maximising the positives and minimising the negatives when it comes to hosting (and home growing) major cultural and sporting events – also, how do you make events work beyond the dates of interest and for the longer-term benefit?

As place branding focuses increasingly on the experience economy, it was also stressed that place making and place management are becoming more integral to the place brand remit. 

Cooperation vs. competition

Improved physical and digital networks mean the world is getting smaller. This also means competition for trade, talent and tourism has never been fiercer; whereas competition used to be regional, it’s now global. There’s a sense that places need to be agile and able to compete aggressively in order to gain their place on the world stage. But against this backdrop, there are questions being asked about whether individual cities can really achieve cut through? Voices are also emerging interested in exploring opportunities for regional and international cooperation. 

Cities are already cooperating and supporting each other in many ways and the Nordic Region is already doing interesting work cooperating on place branding strategy and initiatives. Could regional and even international cooperation in place branding and marketing be something we start to see more of moving forwards? 

The bigger picture: does it all come back to values?

Finally, with a sense that the global political reality is shifting, increasingly there are questions around the impact the values of a country, city or region have on their ability to attract tourists, talent or trade. After all, who wants to put money into a country, city or region whose core values are different to theirs? Will a place’s values be the key differentiator in the future?

Armed with this insight we have already started to put together the programme for City Nation Place Global 2018. Already confirmed speakers who will be covering some of these key topics include:

  • Niall Gibbons, CEO, Tourism Ireland
  • Adriana Campelo, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Salvador
  • Patricia Maher, CEO, Grenada Tourism Authority
  • Kristina Plavšak Krajnc, Director of Government Communications Office, Republic of Slovenia

More speakers will be added as the agenda takes shape over the next 6 weeks and we are looking forward to bringing together another fantastic international melting pot of place branding insights and inspiration. We look forward to seeing you there.