In branding, companies, individuals, and products strive to stand out. Place branding applies standard branding practices to locations and is a marketing strategy that can help grow communities when done well.
Why Does a Place Need Branding?
Paris didn’t become the city of love by accident. Just like a cool logo or catchy slogan helps you recognize and form an opinion about a company or product, place branding uses similar techniques to shape a location's economic, political, and cultural development.
Branding a city helps position it to attract tourists, businesses, and investors. It's like showcasing the city's soul, telling its unique story, and inviting growth opportunities that align with that place. A strong brand becomes a valuable asset, allowing cities to compete for more public and private investments, which brings more money and resources into a community.
Place branding is essential for tourism and investment dollars, but it's also about creating a sense of community and identity that makes people want to visit or move there. In Canada, even car license plates work within the context of place branding—for example, Beautiful British Columbia and Friendly Manitoba.
Place Branding is for Anywhere and Everywhere
Place branding is not just for whole towns—it can be as specific as a community, neighbourhood, or street.
But why do cities bother with place branding? A well-branded city becomes a tourist hotspot, and citizens feel proud of their hometown. They hit their socials with photos and hashtags that align with the place's brand (#vancouverisawesome). This positive branding prompts likes, comments, and shares, encouraging others to come and experience a particular place.
Those who live in a community can become the best ambassadors for it. It's like having a bunch of cheerleaders supporting their community and helping it grow.
Architecture Takes a Place from Meh to Memorable
Architecture plays a vital role in branding. Creative and innovative building designs express the local vibes, giving a city its distinctive style. It's another layer of identity—Ottawa's parliament buildings, Toronto's CN Tower, or Vancouver's Canada Place, for instance. They're all easily identified and correlated with specific locations, and these buildings give you a sense of what the city is about.
Place Branding Isn't Easy
Cities are not like regular brands. They're more complex, dynamic, and full of different dimensions. Can you capture the whole essence of a town in one concept? When branding a place, it's important to consider all the communities it represents and ensure the branding efforts are inclusive.
Unveiling Hidden Gems for Visitors and Locals
Place branding is fueled by travellers seeking experiences they can't get elsewhere. They want to find the hidden gems that make a place special. Branding helps travellers find the perfect destinations that suit their interests, whether partying at a local speakeasy, photographing themselves with an iconic landmark, getting a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or something else entirely.
Giving Places an Identity
Place branding isn't just about tourism—it's about allowing each neighbourhood to have its own story and identity, making locations memorable and magnetic. When others are drawn to a place, it's good for the local economy.
Which places do you know that have amazing branding? Tell us in the comments!