How Many Place Branding Projects Fail, And Why? Expert Panel Answers

Many place branding projects do not see the light of day, so how can the failure rate of such projects be determined? And what are their root causes to ensure the same mistakes aren't repeated? We asked our panel of place branding specialists (in alphabetical order –  highlighted respondents are available for consulting, research or as speakers) and here are their valuable insights.

Our key takeaways:

  • Investigate the reason behind the failure of a place branding project. Have a closer look at the key attributes and any structural gaps that can be avoided going forward.
  • Learnings from an unsuccessful place branding project from five years ago might not be completely helpful today, as realities on the ground change.
  • Failure to establish proper checks and balances, lack of communication, leadership issues, and a wide gap between the set objectives and reality are common pitfalls that lead to place branding failure.
  • The most common cause for a place branding debacle is failure to involve locals in decision-making. A project that does not involve stakeholders like citizen interest groups and NGOs misses out on valuable local insights.
  • Lack of will from political circles and change of political leadership in long-term place branding projects are additional significant causes for failure.

Andrea Lucarelli

This is an interesting question which I am working on a project at the moment. However, failure is not the most important to check for, rather: resilience. Longevity and resilience in the socio-cultural, economic and political status of a place and the collective imaginaries; that is what is important to check.


Anupam Yog

My sense is that a high-level study spanning the last two decades since place branding has come into vogue, and that investigates the survival rate of place branding projects, would reveal structural gaps between “campaigns” that claim to be place brands and their sponsoring organisations (or the lack thereof). Sustained place branding needs a strategy and institutional infrastructure for implementation, as I have argued in the context of Brand Sri Lanka here.


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The Editorial Team

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