Javier Cortes Javier Cortes Studio Director for Brand, Gensler

Interview with Javier Cortés, Studio Director for Design at Gensler

Identifying what makes your place unique can be a challenge. We spoke to Javier Cortés, Studio Director for Design at Gensler, to discover his thoughts on how place brands can overcome these challenges and create an unparalleled experience for their visitors.

CNP: Why do you think that this is a good time to be launching City Nation Place Latin America & Caribbean to bring together national, regional and city place branders to explore the unique challenges that the region faces?

JC: The rich culture of Latin America & the Caribbean offers a multitude of unique experiences to travelers and business opportunities to investors. Strategic Place Branding and Marketing is a powerful tool to effectively define and communicate what makes each location unique, accelerating the growth of travel and economic development.


CNP: What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing place branding and marketing teams working for cities, states and places across Latin America and the Caribbean?

JC: To consider the unique experience of each visitor throughout their entire journey within a city, state or place. From the setting of expectations, to delivering beyond them while being there, to how they continue to be connected with a location once they have left. 


CNP: How are international perceptions of Latin America and the Caribbean changing on the world stage? Is this affecting your own place brand strategy?

JC: People are beginning to better understand the diversity of cultures and regions, and the variety of cultural experiences that can be had – historic, ecological, gastronomic, urban, etc. It is much more than a beach vacation.


CNP: What do you see as being the key difference between place branding and place marketing?

JC: It is significant. Place branding is the clear articulation of the essence of a location – its true meaning, attributes and potential. Place marketing is then the tool to communicate these messages to specific audiences.


CNP: City brands are finding their way into the spotlight – how can nation brands work more effectively with cities to support a clear place brand identity?

JC: Communication and coordination


CNP: What advantages are there for promoting better collaboration between economic development and destination marketing teams?

JC: They go hand in hand. Again, increased communication and coordination can help align efforts to they are more jointly effective


CNP: Do you think there is a growing role for the private sector in supporting nation and city brands? If so, what is your top tip for engaging private sector organizations in the process?

JC: The best way to engage the private sector is by articulating a measurable return on investment that is aligned with their own brand and market objectives. Many non-profits do this very effectively every day, and nation and city brand teams can learn from their examples. 


CNP: Do you think it’s becoming more important to advocate for the value and positive impacts of place branding to both citizens and governments? Why is that?

JC: Yes. Because it is a powerful tool to improve economic development. 


CNP: What is your top tip for creating a place brand strategy that is sustainable in its approach – both in terms of preserving the culture of your place and of minimizing environmental impacts?

JC: Invest time in researching what is the core essence of a place, and leverage existing traditions and customs as vehicles for communication 


CNP: Other than your own session, what are you most looking forward to at the City Nation Place Latin America & Caribbean conference?

JC: Learning from the incredible cadre of experts – what a great variety!


CNP: If you had the opportunity to move to any place in the world, where would you be most interested in living and working?

JC: Boston, where I already live and work.

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