Interview with Petra Theman of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland

Benjamin Alt Benjamin Alt Investment Management, Head of Nordics, Adveq Management

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

Branding is about influencing, communicating AND marketing, whereas marketing is just marketing, and focuses mostly in actions that cost something. Both need a strategic starting point, though, and in the midst of doing operational stuff I don’t really care what it is called…

What, in your view, are three key reasons for cities, nations or regions to implement a place brand strategy?

I’ll give you only one: understanding that politically and economically important decisions, that can be taken on an individual, company or state level, are never only 100 % about facts.  Images play a role, and sometimes it is even decisive.

What is the most common reason for place brand strategy to fail?

Forgetting your roots, self-image and identity as a place.

Why is citizen engagement so crucial to the success of a place brand strategy?

Otherwise you’re basically just doing a campaign, and in the worst scenario inventing things/content/claims that can be “shot down” by citizens in a heart beat.

How do you see the role of the private sector in a successful place brand strategy?

Very, very important. But it is a chicken and egg thing. There has to be something positive in the brand for the private sector before they join in, but private sector involvement is needed to highlight many positive aspects in the brand. At best it’s a win-win.

What does “resilience” mean to you as someone responsible for driving place brand strategy for your city /nation / region?

Place branding is always along term thing: an ongoing thing that never ends. 

How important is it for those responsible for place brand strategy to build networks and connections with other cities, nations and regions?

It is the best training you could have, much more important than any consultancy advice or a university course. Sharing is caring and always gives something back to you.

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