Insights and Highlights from City Nation Place Global 2023

City Nation Place is a great get together for place brand makers and shapers, to network and learn from each other about this evolving industry and practice. Aglaë Perrin participated on behalf of TPBO. Here she shares her impressions.

There was no better way for City Nation Place to announce its new brand identity than at their 9th City Nation Place Global conference. Thank you to Clare Dewhirst for hosting this insightful two-day event.

In the heart of London, experts in the place branding field gathered and shared some amazing presentations and new insights. In the dynamic and interconnected world of today, reuniting these experts from the (figurative) four corners of the world is of crucial importance as we can share, learn and relate to one another.

A packed conference full of presentations, roundtable discussions, and expert-led sessions.

My key takeaways from #CNPGlobal23

Place brand management was at the core of this conference, reflecting a shift in priority, away from brand development and marketing communications. This shows the growth of the industry as now that place brand marketers have well-established strategies they must understand how to manage and implement them successfully.

‘Is the image bigger than the reality?’ A question the ambassador of Estonia made us ponder upon. This relates to the broader sense of authenticity which has gained stronger significance in the industry.

Navigating stereotypes and historical positioning was also a recurring theme, as places such as Abu Dhabi, Estonia, Goyang City and Christchurch have all encountered a similar challenge:

How does one prevail through the misconceptions of a place?

The most common response was to innovate and evolve without disregarding the past through compelling and captivating messaging. Moreover, stakeholders’ support is indispensable, whether it is through consulting firms or internal networking, local entities must be on-board with the branding and messaging used.

This factor’s crucial role goes beyond funding, as they are able to become unofficial ambassadors. However, not everyone will be happy and not everyone will understand branding.

Most notably, the role of local community pride and involvement is becoming a key interest, many professionals in the space are seeing that locals have a strong influence for mood setting and image defining which can affect talent attraction.

Government involvement was also touched upon. The main argument: although having its support is beneficial, the government should not be at the forefront of promotional messaging as this could be perceived as propaganda which can negatively affect international perceptions.

Many places rely on government funding but they also ensure that the essence of the brand remains apolitical. That said, there is a way for place brand marketers to reaffirm brand positioning through the political climate.

My highlights from business presentations

Bloom Consulting’s presentation, ‘Understanding the correlation between perception and reputation of place and economic performance’ shared by José Torres showcased a new model which should entice stakeholders’ involvement in place branding projects.

From their research, which took several years to complete, they found that there is a strong correlation between general perception and willingness to visit, invest and attract talent, which are all key drivers of GDP.

Brand Finance’s expert-led session hosted by Konrad Jagodzinski and Artur Bryzghalov provided insight on strategic applications of place brand measurement.

They demonstrated how one can use their Global Soft Power Index to understand which attributes need more attention. Such data can also be used to attract talent from specific markets to specific industries. Brand Finance also highlighted the domino effect of city brands and regional brands onto nation brands.

The session on building your brand ecosystem hosted by independent consultant (and former CEO of New Zealand Story), Rebecca Smith,  with David Vaassen (BrandKit), David Downs (New Zealand Story), Jess Radford (Brand Tasmania), and Cat Leaver (Scotland) illustrated how to create a successful brand ecosystem, using STARR which stands for: Skill, Time, Access, Refresh and Relevance. Additionally, they suggested working with the private sector to reinforce your place brand message and host workshops. This will help to simplify, centralize, syndicate and partner with relevant interest groups.

CNP Awards

Every year City Nation Place singles out exceptional work across a range of topics. Congratulations to this year’s winners and those highly commended!

Place Brand of the Year

  • Winner: Leiden, The Netherlands

Best Citizen Engagement

  • Winner: The Bahamas | People-to-People Experience
  • Highly commended: Tasmania, Australia | Little Tasmanian

Best Communication Strategy: Economic Development

  • Winner: Vilnius, Lithuania | Techfusion – ‘Got fired by Meta or Twitter? Move to Vilnius’
  • Highly Commended:
    • Copenhagen, Denmark | Positioning Copenhagen As The World’s Leading Life Science Hub
    • The Saint John Region, Canada | Find Your Future – Targeted Talent Attraction & Retention Campaign

Best Communication Strategy: Place Brand

  • Winner: Ukraine | #WhatWeAreFightingFor
  • Highly Commended: Scotland | How Trojan Horses Helped Scotland’s Nation Brand Leap Ahead


  • Winner: Fiji | Where happiness comes naturally
  • Highly commended: Business Iceland | Outhorse Your Email

Best Place Making Initiative

  • Winner: Brixton, UK | Brixton x Harlem twinning
  • Highly commended: Sheffield, UK | Look Up

Best Use of Data

  • Winner: Glasgow City Region, Scotland | Using Data Storytelling To Showcase Glasgow’s Tech And Investment Story
  • Highly commended: Salt Lake County, USA | Overtourism On Mountain Trails – Insights Show It’s The Resident Not The Visitor

Best Use of Design

  • Winner: Seattle Southside, USA | Seattle Southside Gets A Brand New Identity
  • Highly commended: High Point, USA | Civic Brand  – High Point community

Watch this space (and our Place Showcase section) for closer insights into these stories of exceptional place brand strategies and communications.

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