‘Place Branding – Creating Places Where People Want To Be’ – Deepika Mallyk, IIM Bangalore

Millennials in India crave to settle in Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore followed by Chennai and Mumbai. Similar to companies, do cities have brand identities, image and brand equity? How do they promote themselves and meet the expectations of different target groups?

Yes, when cities competed against each other for attention and preference in this globalized world, the concept called ‘Place branding’ emerged around 1990’s, which is not too far back in the past.  The Wikipedia definition of place branding is – an umbrella term encompassing nation branding, region branding and city branding, where in branding is done to communicate the brand identity to the target segment. Examples of cities from the world which successfully branded themselves are New York, Malaysia, Paris etc. Promotion by New York city in form of logo and a song (stylized I ❤ NY) which was started way back since 1977 is the best example for place branding of its history, lifestyle, culture and diversity. Brand slogans of various other places such as
Malaysia’s ‘Truly Asia’, Singapore’s New Asia, India’s Incredible India, Mumbai’s City of Dreams are exemplary for how branding is done with logo, slogan, song etc. and how cities promise value.

 

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It’s not just the tourism department which gets involved in branding but various stakeholders ranging from political administration, transport/ water departments, religious communities, colony welfare organizations, government institutions, corporations to residents and investors.  Branding of any place starts with the identification of existing image of the brand. The identity and image of a city are evaluated under broadly 10 dimensions, namely Technology and research, Innovation and Leadership, Culture, Diversity, Ethnicity, People’s identity, Environmental profile, Networks, Education, Security, and tourism. Once the existing brand image is evaluated through interviews, surveys, and analysis, brand marketers develop a brand identity plan by articulating various elements. This articulation of brand is the expression of the brand through visual and verbal identity. Branding any place is mainly categorized into seven elements.

1. Brand Identifier – One key word for the place

2. Brand Slogan

3. Branding mission – a mission statement for branding

4. Brand Position

5. Branding Personality

6. Branding Affinity (personalisation of the brand in the mind of the consumer) and

7. Logo

The value proposition of a place has three benefits (functional, emotional and self-expressive) that are communicated through above branding elements. Finally, the brand is launched in various forms, implemented, monitored, evaluated and reviewed in phases.

Along with external branding, to create the sense of belonging and to connect people, internal branding is done similar to companies Internal branding. Similar to employees of a company who act as brand advocates, residents of a place are the brand advocates of that place.  The biggest impediment for all the cities in India is the dying sense of belonging among its residents. Creating a sense of belonging among the city’s residents is extremely important as they act as ambassadors for the future stakeholders who visit or settle in the place. Cultural festivals, literary confluences, active participation of colony welfare associations, community events etc. create the sense of belonging. Other factors that act as major challenges are tourism marketer’s little control over the branding mix elements of the city and presence of a diverse range of organizations and partnering involved in crafting perceptions and delivering the brand.

 

 

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About the Author:

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Deepika is currently doing her MBA from IIM Bangalore. At IIMB, her major interests lie in Marketing and Strategy. Prior to this, she graduated from IIT Kharagpur. She is a passionate dancer. Besides this, she loves oil painting and likes to take a shot at writing in her free time.

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