Hall of Fame: 15 of the best place branding and place marketing examples

Over the years, we've been privileged to see some of the best and brightest place branding and place marketing campaigns from around the world. Looking for global inspiration for marketing a city, country, or region? We’re delighted to spotlight the most innovative and impactful campaigns from across destination marketing, investment promotion and economic development.

As we gear up for the 2024 City Nation Place Awards, we wanted to highlight 15 of our personal favourites from the Place Brand Portfolio, the world’s largest collection of place branding and place marketing case studies.


Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism
The key to revealing your regional identity? Listening. | 2021

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo desperately needed to start sharing their own story, instead of it being dictated by outsiders. The team began an inside-out approach to identify the region’s place brand – and it started with listening. In-depth interviews with a range of people identified a ‘master story’ that was then taken back to the community and refined based on their feedback. Ultimately, the team’s measure for success was that any resident could speak about Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo and naturally touch on the strengths and assets in the place brand strategy framework – without ever having seen it. It’s a textbook approach to both citizen engagement and developing a place brand strategy that will provide the foundation for Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo to build on over the next decade and beyond.

 A screenshot from Checkout 247, Finland's Slow TV campaign. A blue bag is on a conveyor, and overlaid on the image is a barcode saying HIHNA 247.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Checkout 247 | 2018

Sometimes, the simplest idea is the most effective. And you can't get much simpler than a live-streaming of a grocery conveyor belt. On the eve of Finland's centenary independence celebration, the live-stream allowed a moment of togetherness for Finns to connect with people around the world to share the story of everyday life in Finland.

The Citizen Engagement Toolkit:

The how-to advice, resources, and best practice you need to launch or improve your citizen engagement strategies.


Business Iceland
Welcome to the Icelandverse | 2022

You have to commend an organisation who can turn around a destination marketing campaign in less than a fortnight. Just twelve days after Mark Zuckerburg announce the launch of the Metaverse, Business Iceland was in market with their parody film, “Welcome to the Icelandverse” – an entirely immersive experience that is actually based in reality. The tongue-in-cheek campaign caught the world’s media by storm, and Mark Zuckerberg himself weighed in less than 23 hours after the campaign went live, saying “Amazing. I need to make a trip to the Icelandverse soon.”

Go Vilnius
Vilnius Techfusion – Got fired by Meta/Twitter? Move to Vilnius | 2023

Vilnius is one of the fastest-growing cities in the CEE region, but it tends to be overlooked by talent and investor. The Vilnius TechFusion project aimed to showcase how the city can serve as a springboard for growth and success – by ‘newsjacking’ global stories and trends. During the Meta and Twitter lay-offs in early 2023, the team recognised an opportunity to reach out to this displaced talent and welcome them to play a part in Vilnius’s tech ecosystem. The message gained viral traction, and a guerilla marketing approach not only drew attention from the right sectors, but showcased the city’s programmes to support and nurture top-notch talent.


Tourism Fiji
Fiji: Where happiness comes naturally | 2023

As travellers began to seek more authentic experiences, portraying Fiji as an island destination ‘Where Happiness Finds You’ was no longer sufficient. Fiji’s narrative needed more cultural depth. A detailed research process with Fijians uncovered a key insight: happiness is not something Fijians turn on for tourists, but an outcome of the culture developed over generations. The subtle – yet transformative – twist in positioning to ‘Where Happiness Comes Naturally’ highlights Fiji as more than a postcard destination: it’s a culture-first approach that showcases a genuine perspective on happiness and welcomes visitors to explore deeper into the country’s heritage.

Visit Faroe Islands
Remote Tourism | 2020

Visit Faroe Islands have a history of innovative campaigns that capture the imagination of people around the world – whether that’s taking on Google Maps or inviting 100 strangers to visit the islands as ‘voluntourists.’ Once again, though, they raised the bar with a campaign that invited people in lockdown to visit the island remotely – by sending commands to a real person who would walk, run, or jump in any direction you asked. Its interactivity immediately put it a head and shoulder above most other virtual tours, and the sheer ingenuity of the whole project just has to be applauded.



Glasgow City Council
Using data storytelling | 2023

One of Glasgow’s greatest assets was their emerging technology ecosystem – but no one had been able to effectively map it. Any data that did exist was gated, creating challenges to developing a data-driven approach to storytelling. Rather than treating data as something to be hoarded, Glasgow City Council is making open-source intelligence available to the tech community through a bespoke, comprehensive database of the rapidly growing ecosystem. The platform provides the insights needed to inform the decisions of founders and investors operating in, entering, or investing in the Glasgow startup market. On top of this, it is creating the foundation for a data-driven storytelling approach that will continue to build awareness of Glasgow’s flourishing tech ecosystem.

Place Branding: Solving the measurement challenge.

How place brand and marketing teams are investing in data and research to shape their strategies, engage stakeholders, and stay ahead of the curve.

Imagen de Chile
Chile’s comparative perception panel study in key markets for a more data driven and multisectoral strategy | 2021

Chile had a small budget, but big needs in terms of audience knowledge and understanding the impact of their work. To rectify this, the team carried out a perception study in target cities to understand where Chile currently ranked. As well as uncovering key insights from their priority markets and developing a base line from which to measure future place brand and marketing strategies, the approach also solidified the importance of Imagen de Chile’s work and re-engaged key stakeholders in the place brand mission.


Five examples of how the Seattle Southside Regional Tourism's 'S' logo has been used to showcase the micro-adventures available in the region, including a burger, a mountain, a hot dog, and a beach.Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority
Seattle Southside gets a brand new identity | 2023

Just 15 minutes south of Seattle, Seattle Southside had been positioning itself as ‘Seattle’s Backyard’ – a story that was overly functional, uninspiring, and did little to counter the perception of the region as a place you would pass through rather than seeking out. Backed by a series of one-to-one interviews to understand current perceptions of the region, the team landed on the idea of ‘micro-adventures’: short trips, filled with quick hits of adventure that people were looking for post-pandemic. The brand platform, ‘Curiously Wonderful,’ is expertly captured in a new playful new design that captures the region’s vibrant energy through ‘micro-widget’ illustrations that use the region’s logo to represent the breadth of adventures waiting for you in the region.


Zuidoost City
Zuidoost, Amsterdam’s fastest changing city district | 2021

Creating a visual identity that works for an entire community is a mammoth ambition. But that’s what Zuidoost set out to do with their new design strategy. Residents of Zuidoost, a district of Amsterdam, have roots all over the world, with over 130 different nationalities represented. The visual identity had to radiate the pride that connects residents (both old and new) while emphasising the unique character of the region. A new, open-source design allows everyone to make the design their own by using their own colours and language – whether that’s to represent their home country or a company brand.


Brixton Business Improvement District
Brixton X Harlem Twinning | 2023

London’s Brixton shares a similar history to New York’s Harlem – an insight that lead to a first-of-its-kind twinning between two business improvement districts. By creating relationships, the partnership takes twinning to a new level, bringing together businesses to create new collaborations, and sharing best practices and practical solutions between the BID teams. Brixton bought the partnership to life with a five-day festival that increased footfall, created opportunities for local businesses, and gave the community a chance to celebrate the Brixton’s past, present, and future.

As part of Sheffield's Look Up initiative, three young women stare in excitement at a phone.Marketing Sheffield
Look up | 2023

The team at Marketing Sheffield wanted to get people looking at the city differently: to get outsiders to see beyond pre-conceptions, and to encourage residents to be proud of what the city can make. Enter an augmented reality campaign that made Sheffield the canvas for a technology-enabled art installation. The app is free to download, encouraging visitors and residents to look up and fully appreciate the city around them, whilst also affirming Sheffield’s world-leading talent in digital and tech.


Brand Tasmania
Tasmanian | 2021

For generations, mainland Australians mocked Tasmanians for being unsophisticated, yet tourism to the region had increased exponentially, small businesses have created an artisanal economy and culture, and they’re self-sufficient in renewable energies – but Tasmanians didn’t know how to talk about this. After interviewing over 400 Tasmanians one-on-one, the team identified a consistent, powerful story – ‘the quiet pursuit of the extraordinary.’ The place brand strategy is uniting the community behind a new purpose and also owns their historical mistakes and challenges while shining a light on the present.

Essential Costa Rica
Our brand essence | 2019

The Costa Rican place brand strategy is a holistic approach that shapes and directs all their actions with inter-institutional collaboration as the foundation of their efforts. Their journey from tourism brand to nation brand is inspiring, and with an ambitious decarbonisation plan by 2050, we're excited to see how their place brand can continue to provide resilience and direction.

European City of Science: Leiden 2022 | 2023

Leiden is known for being a city where science and art meet – and it is this prestige that helped them win the title of ‘European City of Science’ as the hosts of the EuroScience Open Forum. The team’s approach was about more than just hosting the conference; it was about using the title to create a year-long ode to science and art through a 365-day programme that fused the two disciplines and created opportunities for residents to engage with the brand narrative. In total, Leiden was able to attract 85 international scientific conferences, with a number of signature events and activities now becoming part of the legacy programming for coming years.


If you’d like to dive deeper into the initiatives listed below and access all 300+ campaigns from the Portfolio, start your Place Brand Portfolio subscription for just £49/yr.

The City Nation Place Awards are open for entry! Enter now to share your work and impact with the industry, impress an international panel of judges, and earn recognition for your innovative initiatives.

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