Ten tips to drive an authentic place brand strategy

We’ve been lucky enough to secure some of the most innovative, creative and strategic minds in place branding and economic development for the third annual City Nation Place Americas conference, and with just one week to go until the conference, we wanted to share some of our speakers’ best quotes to help inspire your own place brand vision.

We believe that everything starts with a Visit, and by creating an environment where everyone is communicating and branding a destination the same way, leveraging the assets and expertise of each group to create a holistic brand for the community, we create an environment that allows our destination to stand apart.
Chuck Davison, President & CEO, Visit SLO CAL

Creating an authentic identity for a community is more than a marketing challenge and needs to be undertaken as a deliberate place-making strategy, which requires significant collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders willing to do the hard work of building a truly exceptional destination.
Kelly Lietz, Vice President, Marketing & Brand Strategy, Wiscon Economic Development Corporation

Be self-aware. Know who you are as a community and celebrate that. Not everyone is weird, edgy or artsy, but all communities have unique characteristics that make them attractive for young people.
Rob Hunden, President & CEO, Hunden Strategic Partners

Now more than ever, I think it is important for cities to find a way to communicate authentically. It’s so easy to create a hip looking video and design a decent campaign (from a visual perspective), but have it look like dozens of other cities.
Kian Kamas, Chief of Economic Development, Officer of the Mayor at City of Tulsa

Your community is your brand and finding the right balance of growth that does not negatively impact your brand and your ecosystem is important. If a destination is dealing with affordable housing issues, adding more jobs is not the answer. Determining what is the best direction of the destination must include input from everyone.
Scott White, President & CEO, Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau

As tourism, economic development and placemaking become more intertwined, it is important for DMOs, EDOs and CDOs to collaborate and speak with one legislative and community voice.
Matt Pivarnik, President & CEO, Greater Topeka Partnership

DMOs and EDOs should consider their political and public stakeholders as investors. Investors want returns. Returns may come in many forms, and it is not always monetary returns – but you need to be able to document that you have made a difference.
Claus Loenborg, CEO, Copenhagen Capacity

The key is to be proactive. In the past, our industry has a tendency to be reactive in sustainability and over-tourism; a DMO shouldn’t wait for something to go wrong, and then react. There should be education on the importance of the travel and tourism industry, ask what is being done to solve the issues on the impact of travel, and what is the industry doing to benefit the community.
Jon Lambeth, Founder & CEO, Civitas

DMOs must adapt strategies that regularly educate and inform visitors about experiences that strike a community – visitor balance. To strike that balance, solutions can include highlighting new and upcoming neighbourhoods as an attempt to lure and attract visitors to undiscovered and underserved parts of a destination.
Ernest Wooden Jr, President & CEO, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Bureau

At a time of limited resources, it’s critical for DMOs and EDOs to demonstrate the impact they have on local communities, to continue to receive funding to make an impact. Shift your messaging beyond the major hotels and airlines and focus on the smaller players – the SMBs and citizens - who are being impacted by tourism, as well, by amplifying how they define the tourism economy.
Sara Garibaldi, Managing Director, Travel & Economic Development, Ketchum

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