Creative Financing for Place Branding Programs: Examples

How are place branding projects funded? Is it always through public-private partnerships or government-led initiatives to nurture communities and businesses? We wanted to know more about different or uncommon financing approaches to a place branding project and how to make it work, financially. So we asked our panel of place brand specialists (in alphabetical order –  highlighted respondents are available for consulting, research, or as speakers) and this is what they had to say.

Robert Govers panel

Robert Govers

Independent advisor / Speaker / Researcher

Belgium | Brand licensing with membership fees – Costa Rica style.

Caio Esteves

BrazilI have been repeating the mantra for some time having in mind Brazil’s scenario:

  • the government facilitates
  • the community engages and cocreates
  • the private sector makes it possible

In times of pandemic, with efforts aimed at health issues, this model can make even more sense. With the private sector shaping the perception of places through its real estate projects, the challenge is to convince it of the importance of a project connected to the surroundings, and the city and aligned with the local identity.

This has already started to happen in Brazil, like Moinho JF and fortunately, it has been very well received by the community, public authorities and of course, bringing financial returns to entrepreneurs, in addition to strengthening the identity of the city or neighbourhood.

Moinho JF (Moinho Zona Norte | Lugar da Vida Coletiva), a disused mill, was initially a shopping mall and after community engagement, it became a beehive for education, and health, dwelling and local commerce. With a purpose for a positive social impact, it has empowered the local community and brought new and contemporary ways to generate income for entrepreneurs and partners.

Natasha Grand

Natasha Grand

UK | I know of hotels and airlines sponsoring place branding projects, which is fairly common and regular. The Belavia airline sponsored the Think Minsk branding programme, and the hotel Riviera in Kazan, Russia sponsored Visit Tatarstan.

I don’t have the figures with me but they sponsored particular events (children’s drawing events), hotel stays for the team, airline tickets etc. So they did not pay much cash as such but gave in kind, in exchange for publicity and the status of the programme sponsor.

Per Ekman

SwedenFor me, a trustful place partnership is the key to sustainable and well-financed place branding. A success factor is to nurture common interests, insights and future aspirations among stakeholders. And to act on it, together.

However, many partnerships have not sustained (and kept their energy) over time and co-financing has often been short-termed. In my view, the main reason is that core differences between public and private sector perspectives have not been understood and have not been built into the partnership agreement.

There are exceptions. In Oulu in northern Finland, the economic development agency Business Oulu is connecting a wide range of businesses together in a brand-oriented place marketing of Oulu to attract talent and investors. Around 40 private partners have contributed, even more before the pandemic.

Check out their splendid website, it gives a consistent brand story of Oulu and its opportunities  The City of Oulu on the other hand, as the owner of a key partner in Oulu branding (50 per cent), is taking a different role: building brand identity and creating citizen engagement.

Previous questions answered by the panel here.

You’d like to ask the panel a question? Get in touch!

Enjoyed this snapshot of expert views on different, creative approaches to raising capital for place branding projects? Thanks for sharing!


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