Private Property Developers vs. Government Entities: Who Is Better at Place Branding?

Welcome back. Today, we discuss a question that has come up in recent panel sessions: are private property developers or government agencies better at place branding? Which advantages does each have, and what is the best way for success?

Drawing from the wisdom of our industry experts – the TPBO panel, we encourage you to apply the following insights to your own work, and to join the discussion as we continue the conversation on LinkedIn.

Advantages of Private Property Developers in Place Branding

Private property developers possess distinctive qualities that make them pivotal in driving successful place branding initiatives. Let us examine the perspectives shared by our esteemed panel:

  1. Flexibility and Agility: Private developers exhibit remarkable adaptability to market dynamics and changing trends. According to Jaume Marin, these characteristics help destinations be quick and agile in adopting measures. By placing the individuals likely to be affected by a project at the forefront of their activities, they maximize the potential for genuine sustainability, as emphasized by Stu Speirs.

    Their less bureaucratic structure enables them to allocate ample funds and quickly implement their branding strategies. Christopher Hire adds that private property developers have the added advantage of implementing new ideas and failing with less political risk. They can try a new idea and scale it far more cheaply.

  2. Entrepreneurial Mindset: These branding trailblazers thrive on innovation and embrace unconventional thinking. Ed Burghard explains that design thinking offers an approach to achieving brand promises that benefit residents.

    Other attributes that help private developers in quick and rational decision-making are their efficiency mindset and skilled talent, points out Adam Mikolajczyk.

  3. Financial Expertise: Private developers wield financial prowess, injecting the necessary resources to fuel the growth of your brand. Easy availability of resources helps them move forward faster, giving them an edge over government entities, says Efe Sevin.

    Privately owned place brands have the potential to be more influential and effective than government-managed place brands. Andrew Hoyne validates the point by stating that the mindset of private entities is to see a return on investment where each dollar they spend is made to work harder and effectively.

Advantages of Government Entities as Place Branding Leads

Government entities play a vital role in shaping the essence of your place brand. Let’s explore the key advantages highlighted by our experts:

  1. Trust and Legitimacy: The involvement of government entities bestows authenticity and legitimacy upon place branding initiatives. As Andrew Hoyne mentions, major government entities have the potential to provide substantial funding support and engage with media without any commercial agenda.

    Government entities typically have a longer-term perspective, allowing them to focus on a brand that reflects the distinct character local people want to see retained.

  2. Strategic Acumen: Governments possess a natural affinity for strategic planning and coalition-building. Todd Babiak explains that they excel at bringing diverse stakeholders together, aligning place branding efforts with broader community goals to create a harmonious and sustainable future.
  3. Regulatory Influence: Government entities wield the power to shape the physical landscape of your place brand. Aparna Sharma points out that ownership of land and resources is an advantage that governments have that helps in ensuring sustainable long-term planned development.

  4. Inclusivity: Private companies can create and develop a place brand with a focus on its most profitable target audience, while governments are more inclusive because public place brands are for everyone, explains Gustavo Koniszczer.

Best Strategy: Convergence and Collaboration

Now, let’s examine the synergy that emerges when private developers and government entities join forces. Our experts have provided valuable insights in this regard:

  1. Visionary Unity: Forge a shared vision that sets the stage for an unforgettable place brand. Marta Herézniak advises aligning private developers and government entities, creating a formidable force that captures the hearts of residents and visitors alike.

  2. Collaborative Excellence: Collaboration is paramount. Aparna Sharma emphasizes that when these powerhouses unite their strengths, they unleash a symphony of place branding brilliance. Embrace the best of both worlds and harness the full potential of your place brand.

  3. Mutual benefit: Reciprocity can be achieved when private and government entities work in tandem. Hong Fan elaborates that private property developers can easily attract buyers and sell at a higher price if the place is well known and has a strong city brand saving a lot of promotional and marketing costs. On the other hand, the government can benefit if the property is well-designed and caters to the tastes of new residents that the government is actively trying to attract.

Key Takeaways

  • Private property developers bring a distinct advantage to place branding with their ability to mobilize resources efficiently and operate at a faster pace. Their agility enables them to adapt to market demands swiftly, ensuring the place brand remains relevant and competitive.

  • Private developers possess unique insights into how communities work, allowing them to design projects that cater to the needs and preferences of the target audience. Their freedom from bureaucratic processes empowers them to take risks and experiment with innovative ideas, pushing the boundaries of their place brand.

  • Government entities play a crucial role in place branding by ensuring inclusivity and accountability to the public interest. They have the authority to cut through red tape and authorize permits required for infrastructure development, while also fostering a sense of belonging by integrating diverse stakeholder aspirations into the brand. Their long-term perspective focuses on sustainable development and the preservation of a place’s unique characteristics.

By harnessing the strengths of both private property developers and government entities, a collaborative approach emerges as the key to creating a strong place brand. Vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable places that resonate with residents and attract visitors are the result of this fruitful partnership. Your understanding of these nuances will empower you to make informed decisions and shape successful and memorable place brands that stand the test of time.

(Note: The panel insights have been revised and synthesized for brevity and clarity while ensuring the inclusion of all respondents’ viewpoints).

Curious who is part of the panel? Find out here.

With thanks to the panel of industry leaders for sharing valuable insights into the advantages private property developers and government entities bring to place branding.

The panel comes together around three times per year by invitation of Dr. Florian Kaefer, publisher of The Place Brand Observer.

With over a decade of experience in place branding and reputation management, Florian is a recognized expert and thought leader in the field. Through his articles and interviews, he provides insights into the latest trends and developments in place branding, as well as practical advice. 

Follow Florian on LinkedIn or visit his website to stay up to date with his work. Florian is available as a speaker.


Join us at the intersection of research and practice in place branding. TPBO spotlights impactful place brand stories, from showcases to our flagship yearbook. Learn from leaders in our Who is Who World Map. Connect with us on LinkedIn for insights and join our mailing list for the latest place brand impact stories and strategies.

- Introducing: World's Best in Place Branding -spot_img

FREE Download

Place Brand Leaders Yearbook 2024

Latest articles