Who is Who

Dr. Florian Kaefer

Dr. Florian Kaefer is the founder and editor of The Place Brand Observer and Sustainability Leaders United. As a strategic place branding and sustainable tourism expert, he has over a decade of experience in connecting with and learning from over 500 leading professionals worldwide. Florian holds a PhD in Management Communication from Waikato Management School, New Zealand, and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development from Exeter University, UK.

Based in Eastern Switzerland, Florian's work spans a range of activities, including publishing, speaking, and coaching. He assists organizations, destinations, and locations in excelling in sustainability communications and brand storytelling.

As a speaker, Florian shares his expertise on sustainable tourism and place branding, offering insights from his extensive interactions with global professionals. He has published two professional handbooks and contributed to numerous publications aimed at both academics and practitioners, combining his academic insights with real-world applications.


Florian Kaefer on Nation Branding and the Origins of The Place Brand Observer

Keith Dinnie, noted for his work on Nation Branding, conducted this enlightening interview with Florian for his book on Nation Branding (3rd edition). The interview was originally published by TPBO in October 2021.

Florian, why did you establish The Place Brand Observer?

I established TPBO in 2014 upon completion of my doctoral thesis at Waikato Management School in New Zealand, to fill a gap by facilitating access to latest research insights into place branding. I realized that there was no platform where practitioners could find out about academic work on the topic in a way which they would understand, and where academics could learn about the actual experiences and challenges of place brand managers and marketers “on the ground”.

Since I had just completed a thorough review of academic literature on place branding for my PhD, I started by making summaries available, on the website PlaceBrandObserver.com. Most academic work is outdated by the time it is published (since it can take up to 2-3 years for academic work to be published), so I began to invite leading thinkers and practitioners to share their story and insights in the form of interviews. By now over 260 professionals have contributed to our series of interviews (which is still ongoing).

What role does The Place Brand Observer play in the field of place branding?

As a global network and knowledge platform, TPBO provides insights, examples, and advice for place brand teams to strengthen community identity and location reputation. We showcase best practice examples and enable cities, regions, and countries to showcase their unique propositions.

TPBO collaborates with the Journal of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy for the latest research insights. Our expert panel offers timely advice on place branding developments, trends, and challenges.

Our interviews with leading changemakers in place branding illustrate the diversity and global approaches in this field.

TPBO caters to place branding professionals and decision-makers looking for business or investment locations. Our content addresses key issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate emergency, appealing to a broad audience, including economic developers, FDI and talent attraction teams, and senior executives.

The Place Brand Leaders podcast is an engaging extension of our website, focusing on those managing the identity and reputation of their countries, regions or cities.

What are the most inspiring nation branding cases you have come across in the past 2-3 years?

Costa Rica, Slovenia and New Zealand are, to my mind, some of the best cases of successful nation branding right now. All three very much engaged with country branding and carrying it beyond marketing, backing brand propositions with policy and action. I find their strong focus on sustainability very appealing and convincing, especially since this is a topic which our panel of place brand experts identified as crucial for future place branding success.

Peru and Uruguay are two other countries which I had the opportunity to experience first-hand (and you’ll find the country reports on PlaceBrandObserver.com). Both are great examples of how much is possible with the right policies and determination, which is what it takes nowadays to succeed with nation- or country branding.

Can you give any examples of nation branding campaigns that were developed to promote export products, e.g., by enhancing the country-of-origin effect?

New Zealand is the example I know best, having benefited tremendously from its “100%Pure New Zealand” tourism marketing campaign, and the “clean and green” image of its produce – for instance apples and other fruits, and dairy. This was also the topic of my PhD, and you will find more on the meaning and economic success of New Zealand’s country of origin branding on PlaceBrandObserver.com.


Dr. Florian Kaefer is a renowned speaker in the fields of sustainability communication and place branding. His presentations cover topics such as:

  • Brand Storytelling & Sustainability Communication: Integrating Sustainability into Your (Place) Brand’s Narrative
  • Beyond Marketing: Strategic Brand Management of Cities, Regions, Destinations
  • Sustainability in Destinations: Emerging Trends, Challenges, and Success Strategies
  • The Impact of Sustainability on Place Branding and Soft Power
  • Latest Trends and Challenges in Place Branding
  • Valuable Insights from Leading Place Branding Experts

His approach uniquely combines academic insights with real-world applications, providing valuable perspectives on sustainable and responsible place branding strategies.

For inquiries about Florian's speaking engagements, including rates and availability, please contact him directly. Special considerations may be available for academic institutions and non-profit organizations.

Communications Specialist

As a communications specialist, Florian Kaefer provides a range of services that extend beyond his roles with The Place Brand Observer and Sustainability Leaders United. His expertise includes advising on sustainable tourism development, place brand strategy, and how to effectively communicate these initiatives.

Florian's approach is rooted in strategic communication, focusing on the substance and authenticity of a place's identity and story, rather than relying solely on marketing tactics. He helps places, destinations, and organizations develop clear, compelling narratives that resonate with their target audiences while promoting sustainable and responsible practices.

His consultancy work involves collaboration with a variety of organizations, including governmental bodies, tourism boards, and educational institutions, aiming to enhance their reputation and competitiveness through strategic and action-oriented communication.


An Insider’s Guide to Place Branding

(Springer International, 2021) is a professional guidebook focusing on the brand development and management of cities, regions, countries, and destinations. It combines expert interviews with the latest research insights, offering practical knowledge for place managers and marketers. The book presents an invaluable mix of personal stories and essential guidance for those involved in place branding. Explore the book

Sustainability Leadership in Tourism

Published by Springer International in 2022, this book is a comprehensive resource on sustainable tourism. It provides insights and knowledge from practice, integrating interviews with global experts in the field. The book is an essential read for professionals and students interested in understanding the intersection of sustainability and tourism. Explore the book

These publications highlight Dr. Kaefer's capacity to bridge academia with practical application in diverse geographical and cultural contexts.


Incheon City invited Florian Kaefer as a keynote speaker for the Incheon World City Brand Forum because we felt he was the person who could give the most meaningful lecture on the topic of creating urban brands. At a time when strategies and priorities for city branding after Corona change, Mr Kaefer's experience and access to a global network of specialists have greatly inspired not only Incheon but cities around the world.

Jinwoo KIM

Incheon International City Brand Forum 2020

Florian is a powerful voice in the place branding world and has done much to drive and shape the conversations on place identity around the globe.

Ryan Short

CivicBrand (USA)

Florian represents new thinking and approaches to some complex issues. He can step outside-the-box, explore and continuously learn from global perspectives. Talented, refreshing - he's building a unique international network to underpin his future plans.

Steve Noakes

Pacific Asia Tourism

Contact Florian