7 Principles for Place Branding

Driverless cars, vertical gardens, and the Internet of Things. The way we build, interact with, and travel through our cities is changing radically.

01.06.15 | Research

By Tim Sharp

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At Uniform, we work to understand these attitudes and trends, and how they influence the property and place sector. It informs how we develop our place brands, and so how we help differentiate one city from another.

Having a strong reputation and a clear sense of identity is now a pre-requisite for any city to be successful.

If a city is consistently telling the same authentic, credible and motivating story, then in time it will start to achieve some control over its perception. But ultimately its what you do that builds a reputation. As a place are you doing enough interesting things that express who you are?

We believe the answer lies in a sense of place which is defined, crafted and owned by the people. A sense of place which creates belonging and community. People make places. For us, places are ultimately the experiences we have and the memories we share. Successful place brands facilitate and co-ordinate these experiences in a compelling, unique way.

It’s with this thinking in mind that we have evolved our own place branding process PlaceMaker. Our process focuses on ownership and engagement from people to define the story and create the experience. All of which is underpinned by these 7 principles.

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1. UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU’VE COME FROM

The unique stories are what give a place its form, and what people identify with. Ground your vision in the strongest of these stories to give your brand authenticity.

2. ACCEPT THAT NO ONE CAN OWN A PLACE 

Places are shared, and so mean different things to different stakeholders. Creating a place brand is an exercise in capturing and channelling what they have in common into a positive, shared vision.

3. FIND STRENGTH IN UNITY

A place brand positions and manages reputation. Focus on strategically aligning the work of partners, without overwhelming their personality and the unique contribution they make.

4. CRAFT A SENSE OF PLACE

The experience people take away with them is yours to shape. Work with your partners to craft something unique. Let it spring from your brand heritage and story, and never stop working to keep things fresh.

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5. DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU’LL DO

Your behaviour, how you work with partners, how you live by your brand’s values in the real world – this is what builds your reputation, and reinforces your sense of place.

6. GIVE THINGS TIME TO CHANGE

This process won’t transform your reputation overnight, because the right strategy needs an investment of time as well as money and energy.

7. BE BOLD, BE BRAVE

Your brand is an honest representation of a place. So don’t be concerned with pleasing everybody. Celebrate what makes you different, use it to do interesting things, and put yourself on the map.

To support our thinking, we are currently exploring how technology can help add value to the city experience. Specifically the role the internet of things will play in shaping our cities in the future. The internet of things promises to make how we live and work easier but we feel the more exciting opportunity lies within play. How can the IOT make play more attractive within a place? How can it help one city differentiate from another?

We will be releasing a report on our thoughts and findings very soon….

 

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