7 Deadly Problems of Place Branding Projects: Lessons from Guadalajara

In case you were not following, Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, recently launched its new brand, only to experience significant public backlash. Although the logo was based on an iconic asset of the city -which triggers positive memories around the world- the public discontent about the visuals became widespread. Moreover, while the project did not cost a peso to taxpayers -as the design process was managed pro-bono by local talents- Mexicans blamed their officials for being cheap.

What went wrong with brand Guadalajara? Could the real problem be something other -bigger- than design? Let’s use Guadalajara as a case and analyze the seven deadly problems of place branding projects.

Problem #1: Misconceptions about what a brand actually is

Many place branding projects get off to a poor start -mainly- because the project team fails to educate the public about the proper meaning of a brand. More specifically, they make the crucial error of not differentiating brand identity from brand image.

Brand identity is what we see: a logo, a slogan, visuals.[1] The design exists within the sphere of influence of the place. That is exactly what Guadalajara have created: a brand identity.

What really matters, however, is not brand identity but brand image, which is the public’s perception of the place. Unfortunately, that cannot be shaped merely by creating a brand identity. Visuals and promotional materials could contribute to changing a place’s brand image, albeit that impact is limited.

Before launching a new logo, officials are better off educating the public about the difference between brand identity and brand image, so that the negativity would be compartmentalized.

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The Editorial Team

Hi there, we hope you've found this article useful. Want to stay up to date on latest place branding insights, stories and examples? Sign up for our free email newsletter! You might also be interested in our services. Have a question or suggestion? Get in touch!