Place Brand Trigger Explained – TPBO Strategy Innovation Lab

Place Brand Trigger: what is this concept all about, who came up with it and how does it work? We caught up with  Piotr Lutek of Synergia place marketing agency in Lublin, Poland, to find out.

This is the first of a new series of articles in which we will introduce you to novel concepts and innovative approaches to place branding, as part of the TPBO Strategy Innovation Lab. You’d like to be featured? Tell us about your innovative approach to place branding here!

Piotr, you developed the Place Brand Trigger model. Briefly, what is it all about?

Long story short, the Trigger model is a response to a common problem for many cities and region: we have a fascinating brand strategy, but struggle with converting it into market impact.

The model divides the whole management process into four basic areas, which, together, are responsible for the final result. Each of them is subject to a development process, which again is divided into three phases. The main areas are organization, product, communication and experience, and stages combined: incubation, revival and maturation.

The model can of course be used for brands at different stages of their development, but it is dedicated to those projects that are at the initial stage of implementation. Actually, most of place branding projects in Poland are at the very beginning of their journeys.

One key attribute of the presented model is its flexibility, which does not force parallel and systematic work on each of the areas. However, the origin of its creation is related to the common problems that local government units have with proper brand management, in particular its transformation into a source of both economic and symbolic added value for various groups of customers of what a place has to offer.

The entire model is as below:

Place Brand Trigger™

Model of place brand implementation

areas/stages Incubation Animation Maturation 
Organization Management centre Brandmates creation Stakeholders engagement
Product Flagship project Selective adaptation Gaps filling
Communication Brand encounter Brand comprehension Relations reinforcement
Customer experience Key touch points Experience enrichment Assets regeneration

What motivated you to develop the Place Brand Trigger?

In general, a typical process of building a place brand is usually limited to promotional activities linked to the place’s culture, such as organization of events and promotional communication. This falls short of the meaning of place branding: the ability to choose and strengthen the position of a place in relation to similar places, by creating a specific image, which is a source of both economic and symbolic added value.

Realizing this shortcoming made us work on a solution of wider impact, encompassing more than marketing communications and allowing to manage an entire process, as this is what’s needed.

On the other hand, too many place brand strategies fail because of chaotic, unnecessary and wrong activities. Sorting them out is a key to move forward and to keep up with competing places.

How does this approach work in practice?

In 2007 I personally joined the marketing team which was appointed by the local government to build the brand of my hometown, Lublin. The project inspired me to set up Synergia and was a great opportunity to understand all key issues of the process, the different traps one can fall into and milestones that have to be achieved to get to the next level.

My 10 years of experience with this project are a solid background for Place Brand Trigger. Alongside our work with Lublin, we have analyzed many – I believe more than 50 – brand projects from all over the world, identifying success factors that made them so efficient.

Which other models or strategies would you consider essential parts of the place branding “toolbox”?

There are lots of different techniques, models and tools that make the process of building a place brand strategy easier. At Synergia, we usually base our work on Keith Dinnie’s conceptual model of place brand identity, Martin Lindstrom’s approach to creating emotional bonds with customers, and of course a few of Simon Anholt’s ideas.

Apart from Place Brand Trigger, we developed some other tools that help us on a daily basis – like our in-house model for positioning statements or our workshop concept that reveals genuine social assets of a place.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

Its brand is a very important phenomenon for every city and region. It brings out and strengthens its uniqueness and, what is equally important, allows to observe the activities of competing locations with peace of mind.

As Professor Yoram Mitki said – there is a treasure hidden in every city. The question is not only about how to discover it, but also polishing and preparing it for being admired. A city’s or region’s brand is such a treasure, and Place Brand Trigger is a suitable tool to make it shine and admired.

Thank you, Piotr.

Find out more about Place Brand Trigger, place branding in Poland and the work of Synergia place marketing agency in our interview with Piotr Lutek.

You’ve come up with imaginative ways to strengthen community identity and place reputation – and would like to present your idea and approach to our audience of place brand decision-makers? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us here.


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