Looking at resilient places, one thing they demonstrate is a clear sense of self. While there will be plenty of other factors that make them a success - reputation, identity, proposition, personality, or whatever you want to call it - plays a part.
Like any brand, a place brand is there to support a vision, influence perception and act as a shorthand to drive decision-making. Its role is value creation. It’s positioned to compete - to attract the right segments and engage the right stakeholders.
But what makes place branding different is its tangibility. Place branding drives physical and economic change. Change you can see, touch and experience. It supports the creation of social value; the 2017 High Streets for All Report is still an excellent exploration of high streets as multi-functional spaces central to our lives, not just places to shop.
But while it’s exciting to see a place brand come to life physically, the brand is also a vehicle to make things happen behind the scenes.
Engaging stakeholders early on with the brand as a vision and catalyst can help accelerate change and build support. It wraps up and distills all the work happening under a wider placemaking strategy to say simply - ‘this why you should be here’.
Its promise is to create a better place for existing and future audiences. Inward Investment and development provide education, opportunities, amenities and housing. Improved public realm and events bring people together. Meanwhile space can be a platform for artist and makers or valuable for important local organisations.
Branding helps generate an emotional tie between people and place, it seeks to foster community and human connection. Now more than ever towns have an opportunity to respond to our innate desire to belong, as local neighbourhoods and shared experience become even more important to us post-pandemic.