So you've been charged with the honorable task to develop a place brand for your city, region, country, destination or neighborhood, but don't know where to start? Place brand consultants can help you master the many potential pitfalls which are part of the place branding process. In fact, we strongly suggest you not to attempt this on your own.
Once the decision is made for an external expert to guide the development, implementation and management of your place brand strategy, another questions pops up: How to choose the right person for the job at hand?
This can be tricky because not all consultants promising place branding actually have what it takes to deliver. Most design or advertising agencies still think about logos, taglines, perhaps a new website - which is all good but has little to do with place branding.
Two examples of why it can be so tricky to choose the right place brand consultant:
Sebastian Zenker, Copenhagen Business School:
"I once heard a presentation from a consultant saying that you have to communicate the essence of a place in a three seconds message, since this is the only thing that your customer is able to concentrate on. Seriously? If such a dramatic reduction of complexity were the approach of the potential specialist, I would definitely avoid it!
Most importantly, try to get different people and viewpoints into one room. Some places like Oslo and The Hague for instance started to hire academics as part of the advisory board, to give input and knowledge into place branding processes. I value the work of practitioners and consultants, but I think adding an academic as some kind of adviser into that equation would make many decisions better."
PR agency view
Christof Biggeleben, Germany:
"Clearly look for PR- and Ad-Agencies. Because there they come up with and create branding. Many scientists like to consult, but they are often quite theoretical.
The most important parts of a branding-campaign, however, are the central idea, the strategy and the creative measures. And none of that comes from the ivory tower of place-branding-science. They create rules, which agencies usually don’t even follow…"
Based on our expert interviews, below is our advice for city and regional authorities on how to select a place branding specialist to serve as advisor.
7 tips for selecting the right place branding specialist
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