For this week’s interview we take you to London, England, where Keith Dinnie works as place branding scholar (Middlesex University) and advisor (Brand Horizons). Keith is the author of Nation Branding: Concepts, Issues, Practice (2nd edition) and the editor of City Branding: Theory and Cases.
Having lived in and worked in countries around the world, Keith Dinnie has gained unique insights into the different conceptions and approaches to place branding, some of which he shares in the interview. He also reflects on how the nation branding scene has changed and evolved since publication of the first edition of his book in 2008.
- The main changes in nation branding practice over the last years;
- Differences across countries in how they approach place branding;
- Main differences between cities and countries, regarding place branding;
- Good and bad examples of strategic brand management;
- Key problems in country branding;
- Keith’s favorite place branding book;
- The issues city and country branders struggle most with;
- Keith’s thoughts on the Good Country Index by Simon Anholt.
Keith, as a researcher, what got you interested in place brand management and the branding of cities, regions and nations?
About 20 years ago the ‘Scotland the Brand’ organisation was set up to promote Scotland internationally. That was the first time I had come across a country explicitly being treated as a brand. Initially I was highly sceptical, for the reasons that opponents of place branding still put forward, i.e., places are not like simple supermarket products that can be branded, it’s cultural commodification, it’s an expression of neo-liberalism, and so on.
But the more I reflected on it, the more I came to the view that if countries (and cities and regions) don’t make any effort to manage their reputation, then they are completely at the mercy of external forces that will do their branding for them.