How do you judge what makes a great place branding or marketing strategy?

How do you judge what makes a great place branding or marketing strategy?

“Benchmarking allows us to actively share our responses to communication challenges with our peers and demonstrate our best foot forward,” stated Daniela Montiel, International Partnerships Manager at Marca Chile and one of the Jury members for the 2019 City Nation Place Awards. She added, “In my case, reviewing the benchmarks/entries from the past couple of years has truly been a source of inspiration.”

So what are our judges looking for? What do they think are the key ingredients of a great place strategy or place marketing campaign?

City Nation Place is a forum for place branding and place marketing. Our Communication Strategy, Best Use of Social Media, and Best Use of Design categories are our most marketing-focussed awards, but our jurors expect to see strategies that reflect broader strategic objectives. “A strong place brand and clever marketing strategies are important cornerstones in attracting investments, companies, skilled labour and tourists,” stated that Claus Lønborg, CEO at Copenhagen Capacity and winner of the 2018 Best Use of Social Media award. Being able to demonstrate how your strategy worked towards a longer-term goal puts your campaign results into a wider context.

How you articulate the values you place stands for can be the key to successful place communication, as the internet opens up a myriad of new avenues to connect with your audience. “It’s a lot more fragmented than it used to be,” mused Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir¸ Director at Visit Iceland, “I think the best tip is to maintain a consistent voice where it suits your brand and not try to be all things to all people.”

However, the diversification of social media channels also feeds back into the challenges created by an oversaturated market. With new technology allowing increasing levels of personalisation and the sheer volume of advertisements that people are bombarded with on a daily basis, it takes something really unique to grab the attention of your audience. “Travellers the world over expect to see new, dynamic approaches that talk to them,” began Leigh Dawber, Chief Marketing Officer at Cape Town Tourism, “We need to [respond] in ways that will make those audiences sit up because the offer interests and excites them.”

Demonstrating that your place marketing teams are keeping up with the wealth of opportunities and resources available to them is therefore also key to a successful entry, and perhaps most important of all is how you carefully selected the right tools to demonstrate that your place has something unique to offer. “Celebrating your place’s unique points of difference, character and assets allows us to shape an identity and reputation that resonates and drives recognition,” said Cat Leaver, Director, Brand Scotland, “It’s only in recent years that place brands have really come to the fore. So, it’s fantastic to see so many experts in this field delivering tangible results for their place.”

How to write an Award winning entry in 10 easy tips:

  1. Ensure communication and design strategies are explained as part of your place’s broader strategic objectives
  2. Demonstrate consistency in your messaging regarding your place’s values
  3. Show how your communication approach or place brand strategy reflects and develops the unique attractiveness of your place
  4. Choose the right category! A Place Brand Strategy of the Year entry needs to have a broader perspective than an entry in to any of the other categories
  5. To engage our judges, who will have many entries to review, engage them in the story of your place
  6. Use the entry templates as a guide to writing a great entry
  7. Proof-read your entry
  8. Do use the word count as a guide to how much the judges need to hear [but don’t exceed the word count!]
  9. Make sure you include results and ensure that your results reflect your objectives
  10. Provide supporting materials and/or links to give judges the best opportunity to understand what you have achieved


The City Nation Place awards close for entry on the 6th September. Click HERE to see how to enter or HERE for a little inspiration from our 2018 finalists.

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