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. 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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