Behind Brand New Zealand
New Zealand have one of the most admired place brands in the world. But what goes on behind the brand? Rebecca Smith, Director of the New Zealand Story, shared some of New Zealand's key areas of focus with us before she delivers our international keynote at City Nation Place Latin America & the Caribbean.
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?
RS: LatAm and Caribbean nations have stepped up efforts significantly over the past few years, creating and evolving their nation brands and positioning strategies. The CNP conference comes at a pivotal time as nations face the next challenge of recognition, growth, and consideration in an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape. The forum provides an opportunity to share successes, learn from each other, and stretch our thinking to achieve even more ambitious outcomes for our nations.
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?
RS: Consumers are being bombarded and inundated with country messages as each of us seeks to set our nation apart from the other and get to the top of the choice list. How do we cut through in a world that scrolls past almost everything and is increasingly attracted to stories of cats and chaos.
CNP: How are international perceptions of Latin America and the Caribbean changing on the world stage? Is this affecting your own place brand strategy?
RS: Perceptions are difficult to shift among the broader consumer population. LatAm and the Caribbean nations are increasingly seen as credible and valuable partners with vibrant new opportunities for investors. However, like New Zealand, perceptions of distance and capability often remain stubbornly set in the past. Observing the issues other nations face is a helpful reminder as we evolve our own strategy.
CNP: What do you see as being the key difference between place branding and place marketing?
RS: For most of us in this arena, the terms are somewhat academic. Both marketing and branding are misunderstood and misused terms. We avoid using these terms and speak instead about our reputation, consideration, and creating spaces where people want to visit, live, work and play.
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?
RS: Whilst it’s important to have cohesion between city and nation brands, we focus more on how others see us and ensure we dial up whatever aspects are relevant to our audiences. For some that’s about the city, for others it’s the whole package.
CNP: What advantages are there for promoting better collaboration between economic development and destination marketing teams?
RS: In New Zealand we’ve consolidated these so that the two work hand in hand. Tourism is our number one export earner so our economic development is intimately linked.
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 organisations in the process?
RS: We started out as a public private partnership and the private sector have always been a critical element of our strategy. The story our private sector brands tell, and the way they behave in offshore markets has a much greater impact on perceptions of New Zealand among buyers and influencers than anything a Government agency says.
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?
RS: Place branding needs a social licence and we do need to carefully and deliberately ensure citizens are involved, engaged, and supportive. For New Zealand, our place is not defined by history or built environments - it’s defined by our people and our culture. It therefore needs to be our people who lead our place brand.
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 minimising environmental impacts?
RS: New Zealand has a very strong focus on minimising environmental impact so this is always top of mind. We are a multi-cultural nation with a strong partnership between the Crown and Maori (our indigenous people). These values are embedded in our strategies.
CNP: Other than your own session, what are you most looking forward to at the City Nation Place Latin America & Caribbean conference?
RS: I’m really looking forward to meeting others from the region and learning more about their success. We can all learn from each other.
CNP: If you had the opportunity to move to any place in the world, where would you be most interested in living and working?
RS: That’s an impossible question to answer. Rather than a place, I would choose to live where there are friendly welcoming open-minded people. Plenty of sun and sand would be a bonus.