In this interview, place reputation scholar and advisor Robert Govers offers exclusive insights into the past and future of place branding research and practice. Together with his colleagues Gerard van Keken and Erik van ‘t Klooster, Robert Govers developed the place branding principles and a five-step approach for city, region and country branders, both now hosted by The Place Brand Observer.
- How perceptions, which are largely based on clichés, don’t change very much over time;
- Why you should change the narrative of competition and presence to one of collaboration and esteem;
- Why contributing positively to humanity can be the best place brand strategy;
- Which are the main challenges for place branding practitioners;
- What place branders should never do in terms of communication;
- Which are the main barriers between academics and practitioners devoted to the topic.
Robert, what was your view of place branding when you first started your professional career?
In simple terms I’ve always looked at the brand as the construct that bridges identity and perceived image/awareness (reputation being the average perception among informed publics). To me, as I wrote in my doctoral dissertation in 2005 and published in the book I co-authored for Palgrave with Frank Go in 2009, place branding is about strategies that aim to build brand equity for places by boosting awareness and enhancing positive image associations.