Join us as we travel back to New Zealand (where the idea for The Place Brand Observer was born and developed), for this interview with Brian Richards, one of the country's most celebrated branding professionals. Among other things, Brian shares his thoughts on success strategies and pitfalls to avoid, how the branding of places differs from product branding, and whether New Zealand as country brand is on the right track.
Brian, you are recognized as one of New Zealand’s foremost brand strategists. Do you remember what brought you to the topic? Who or what triggered your interest in branding?
My year in France at INSEAD convinced me of France’s understanding of intellectual property. From its luxury goods to its basic wines, everything had a story and in many cases, those stories reached into the provenance of regions. I came back to New Zealand appreciating we had so much intellectual property that had never been realised.
Having advised both businesses and places throughout your over 30 years of consulting practice, which would you say are the main differences in how those clients approach “branding”?
I think the branding of a place is completely different to that of a product. Place branding has to be rooted in cultural origins. It’s less about the backdrop and more about the foreground personality of the people in the story.
Product branding, conversely, is a contrived set of circumstances by comparison. Place branding is so often guilty of too much hype. The best techniques are to create a set of curiosities and intrigue the audience to discover more.
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