Current State of Place Branding Practice in Russia: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities

What is the current state of place branding practice in Russia? In this post, learn about the trends, challenges and opportunities linked to the branding of cities and regions in Russia.

Learn about:

  • How Russian cities and regions approach place branding;
  • Which challenges Russian cities, regions or destinations face regarding brand development and management.

Thoughts on Place Branding in Russia

Russia, a country big enough to belong to both the European and the Asian continent, for strategic place branders presents a big challenge, but also a massive opportunity. Russia connoisseur Natasha Grand of the Institute for Identity (INSTID), in her interview summarized her impression of the current state of place branding in this vast country as follows:

Place branding in Russia is currently in the state of blind men describing an elephant. There is certain enthusiasm for place branding among academics, communication consultants, and graphic designers, though original or dedicated voices are very few. Design students who make navigation systems for their degree projects claim themselves as place branding experts.

The lack of any tangible outcomes of many past place branding projects in Russia, together with an eagerness of half-baked “experts” to do work for free drives down prices and undermines the image of place branding altogether.

The public sees it primarily as a money-laundering exercise. As a result, state officials, sensitive to media comments, are cautious not to allocate any substantial budgets to place branding and avoid potential criticism.

At the same time, state authorities spend money on development and infrastructure but this is not informed by or related to any understanding of place identity and its imperatives. Tourist boards are full of dedicated personnel who are eager to do their job but do not have enough resources or access to run full-scale work.

The need for recognition and self-awareness, however, is rising among Russian regions and cities. International sanctions against Russia have turned the domestic popular attention inward. Internal tourism is growing steadily, and so is genuine interest in places, their traditions and way of life. Not only wealthy regions, but also struggling ones start looking for the ways to become more prominent, though they do not necessarily look at place branding as a solution.

Russian branding and marketing scholar Irina Shafranskaya distinguishes between two levels of place branding in Russia:

  1. place branding as a promotional technique, which is quite helpful in increasing awareness of the place and distinguishing it from a million of other places; and
  2. place branding as an ideology and core principle, which determines the idea of the place communicated through words, activities, events, managerial practices etc.

She further notes:

The first level is quite simple in its realization, and a lot of Russian cities have created their promotional campaigns during last 5 – 10 years. Currently we have cases of 100 Russian cities and 30 Russian regions as the raw material of our future research on Russian place branding practices.

And unfortunately we see, that only 10% of them are closer to the second level, when place branding starts from the idea on how to make the city or region a better and more attractive place through its branding.

That’s all we have at the moment on place branding practice in Russia. If you’d like to explore further, why not zoom in on our world map for in-depth interviews with leading place managers, marketers and developers around the world.

Over to you:

What do you think about the current state of place branding practice in Russia? Do you agree with the views shared in this post? Comments welcome.


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