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Place marketing vs Place Branding | A Practical Guide

Place branding often lends to the direction of place marketing. A place’s brand determines how customers perceive and feel about a place. Paris is widely branded as the “city of love.” Travel agents and local tourism authorities align their marketing efforts with this branding. While people may forget the marketing material related to Paris, the brand is memorable. 

It can be defined as:

“A set of attributes, perceptions or feelings associated with a physical location (such as a building, neighbourhood or town) communicated through various channels such as advertising, signage, product packaging, etc.”

In contrast, place marketing is how a business uses a particular place to promote its products and services. Place marketing is not just about making places look good. It also involves creating an emotional connection between people and places.

Place marketing

Place marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on the relationship between a business and its environment. It is an approach that seeks to create positive emotions for consumers. This includes using elements of design, architecture, art, music, food, and other sensory experiences to enhance the experience of visiting a place. The goal is to make visitors want to return again and again.

Place marketing takes full advantage of the environment. It ensures that Unique selling points (USPs) are used to attract new visitors while retaining existing ones. This means that every element of the place is considered. For example, if there is a beautiful view from a restaurant, this should be highlighted. If a hotel has a pool, then this should be advertised.

The most critical aspect of place marketing is creating a sense of belonging. People who visit a place will associate themselves with the place. They become part of the community. 

Building association

To build the association, you can start by drawing your persona/s. 

  • How old are they
  • What sort of activities do they enjoy

You what to match the persona’s interests to the features and characteristics of the place you are marketing. Association is built by using marketing material to align the persona’s interests with the place.

For example, if you are marketing a spa resort, the persona would be someone who enjoys relaxing and taking care of herself. She might like to go swimming, have massages, and spend time at the beach. In addition, she could be interested in health issues, so you can market treatments that address these concerns.

Creating the right image

When designing a place, you need to consider the following things:

  • What does the place represent?
  • How does the place reflect the personality of the company?
  • Does the place provide a unique selling point (USP)?
  • What makes the place unique?
  • What is the best way to highlight the USP?
  • What are the unique aspects of the place?

Part of your marketing effort should clean up any unsavoury elements that the place may be associated with. At peak tourist times of the year, you will often see this in the form of a crackdown on touters and illegal hawkers that frequent the Eiffel Tower. 

Place Branding

To brand a place, you need a clear understanding of its purpose. You also need to understand how to position the place in terms of uniqueness. For an even more effective brand, one may start by identifying what people already associate with the place. 

Philadelphia is a great example of this. William Penn, who had a royal charter from Charles II of England, would have been within his power to take over the land forcibly. Instead, he bought it from the Lenape as a show of goodwill to the Native Americans. This created “brotherly love.” 

These events inspired the name of the city. Philadelphia comes from the Greek “phílos” and “adelphós,” which, when combined, translates to “brotherly love!” 

This makes for a great story that marketers would have a field day with. But, it is self-branded. 

The key difference between place marketing and place branding

A key difference between place marketing and branding is that place marketing focuses on the needs and wants of the customer. Place branding focuses on the features and characteristics as the business owner or stakeholders have identified them. 

For example, if a hotel chain wanted to promote their hotels in Europe, they could focus on being located near the Eiffel Tower or maybe the Champs Elysées. They could market the location as being close to some of the most famous attractions in Paris.

This approach would help them attract tourists that want to visit the area. It would also help them attract customers that want to stay in the place because of the proximity to the attractions.

In contrast, if a hotel chain decided to promote their hotels in Australia, they would focus on the hotel having beautiful views of the ocean. They would try to sell the idea that guests would enjoy staying there because of the view.

Branding Process

What is the image associated with the place you are looking to brand? The branding process when city branding may focus on the city’s image. This feeds into the general branding campaign.

Destination branding

Destination branding is when you look at the destination itself. It is usually done through advertising campaigns. The main goal of this type of branding is to create a positive impression of the destination.

It can include things like:

  • Promoting the local economy
  • Promoting tourism
  • Increasing awareness of the destination

Participatory Branding

Participative branding is when you involve the community in the branding process. It is used to increase the sense of belonging among locals. 

Internal branding

Internal branding is when you use your employees to promote the brand. It helps build loyalty among your staff.

External branding

External branding is when you advertise your brand outside of your company. It is usually done via social media platforms such as Facebook.

Developing a branding strategy for place marketing

To develop a successful branding strategy for place marketing, you must consider several factors. These include:

  • How do people perceive the place?
  • Where should the place be placed?
  • Who is going to benefit from the place?

How do people perceive the place?

Perception plays an important role in how we see places. People’s perceptions of a place can change over time. For instance, a person who visits a new country for the first time might not know what to expect. If they don’t know about the place, it might take longer to form opinions.

When it comes to place marketing, perception is everything. You must understand how people perceive the place before you can start promoting it. You can find out more about perception here. 

Savvy marketers may tap into positive perceptions. You are reinforcing it through branding initiatives. For example, if you have a business known for its cleanliness and safety, you can strengthen those qualities by using images of happy, smiling children on your website.

How a destination brand influences city marketing

A destination brand has a big impact on city marketing. In many cases, it can even influence the way cities are perceived.

For example, think about the New York City skyline. When most people think of New York City, they think of the Empire State Building. But the Empire State Building was built after New York City became a major tourist destination. So, without the Empire State Building, New York City wouldn’t be considered a top tourist destination.

Similarly, London is often thought of as being dirty and dangerous. However, London is one of the safest cities in the world. And while there are still parts of London that are dirty and unsafe, these areas are becoming less common.

This shows how a destination brand can positively affect city marketing. As long as the destination brand grows, so will the city’s reputation.

Identity-Based Approach

An identity-based approach involves creating a unique image or personality for your destination. This could be achieved through a logo, slogan, tagline, mascot, or other symbols.

The goal of this approach is to create something that represents your brand. Something that makes visitors want to come back again and again.

The problem with identity-based approaches is that they can be expensive. They require lots of research and development.

So, unless you’re willing to invest heavily in developing a strong identity, it’s probably best to stick with a traditional approach.

How to avoid creating confused branding

Confused branding occurs when two different brands use similar names. It happens all the time.

Take the Coca Cola company, for example. There are hundreds of different types of Coke products available today. Some of them contain caffeine. Others don’t.

Some of them are sweetened. Others aren’t. Some of them are carbonated. Others aren’t.

And some of them are made from sugar cane. Others are made from corn syrup.

But, despite all of these differences, the Coca Cola name is used by almost everyone.

So, if you were to visit a store selling a product called “Coca Cola”, you’d never know whether it contained caffeine or not.

You’d also never know whether it was sweetened or not.

As a result, consumers buy products they didn’t intend to purchase. And, when they do, they feel like they’ve been tricked.

To avoid confused branding, make sure that your brand stands out. Use a unique name. Make sure that your brand doesn’t look too much like another brand.

Make sure that you communicate what your brand does. If you’re selling a product, make sure that your packaging clearly states what the product contains.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I hope that this article helps you better understand the concept of place branding vs place marketing. A wide range of branding techniques combines well with place marketing. 

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