Top place branding tips from Malcolm Allan

Anders Engdahl Anders Engdahl Head of Debt Purchasing, Lindorff
Top place branding tips from Malcolm Allan

With new challenges around funding and data, place brands are having to become more innovative in their approaches. Malcolm Allan, President at Bloom Consulting, shares some of his thoughts on the opportunities arising for place brands.

CNP: Why do you think it’s important to have a conference that brings together place branding practitioners from across the world to discuss the biggest challenges and emerging opportunities for cities, regions and nations working on their place brand strategy?

MA: The annual Global CNP conference is one of a few opportunities for practitioners and places to meet each other to keep track of key developments in this emerging and fast growing field. I place a high value on the face to face opportunities the conference presents.

CNP: Effective place branding has always required a long-term view – and increasingly place brand strategies are aiming for more “sustainable” tourism and economic development. How do you define “sustainability” in place branding?

MA: For me, sustainability represents an understanding that place branding is a long-term venture and a willingness to stay the course and invest in the ongoing management, implementation and delivery of place brand strategies. 

CNP: Authenticity is perhaps one of the biggest buzzwords in place branding – what do you think is the key to creating an authentic place brand?

MA: An authentic place brand truly reflects the offer and experience of a place as it is found and honest agreed ambitions for the development of the place, avoiding dishonest claims and exaggeration.

CNP: Engaging the citizens who live in your city, region or nation has always been a key element of successful place branding strategy, but why and how can you engage your diaspora as ambassadors for your place?

MA: In my experience if you engage your diaspora in the process of developing your place brand strategy, it is far more likely to want to promote it, advocate for it, and be an ambassador for it.

CNP: Why do you think we are seeing a growth in networks of places with similar challenges, and collaboration between places on strategic initiatives?

MA: This reflects the fact that despite the difference in the physical make up of places, their heritage and location, there is much that is similar, particularly in tackling the challenges of defining identity, understanding brand as it applies to place and organising programmes to improve on the offer of places.

CNP: Do you think it’s important to connect place branding more effectively with placemaking / place shaping?

MA: For me, place branding, place making and place shaping are the three central components of place development.

CNP: Why is it crucial for places to explore more innovative approaches to funding? 

MA: The funding of place brand strategies has typically and traditionally been undertaken by the public sector, especially to kick-start the process of brand strategy development. However, with public authorities globally facing funding issues, the challenge is to bring together new funding partnerships involving the public and the private sectors and the not-for-profit sector in innovative ways that enables a greater volume of funds to be created for strategy development, implementation and management.

CNP: Do you think places could be using data more effectively to inform and shape place branding strategy?

MA: Absolutely. The biggest source of largely untapped data on places exists on the internet and places need to recognise tat, for example, enquiries about their place on search engines is a rich source of data on what people are looking for which can be used to determine gaps in their offer and where they may be facing over-demand which will require improved management.

CNP: If you had a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel anywhere – all expenses paid – where would you go?

Your answer: New Zealand

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