Branding is not limited to businesses and celebrities. Neighborhoods, cities, and entire regions can tap into the advantages of a well-designed and effective marketing strategy. What is city branding and how can your municipality use it to develop, grow and offer more opportunities for citizens and local businesses?

City Branding: defined.

Place branding and marketing is the process of creating an identity that helps unify, recruit, and retain residents, tourists, and businesses in a nation, state, region, or city. The goal is to capture the positive attributes and attitudes that make a place desirable. City branding specifically means to turn a municipality or neighborhood into a destination that makes you want to live there, work there, and play there.

Places with a well-known history or major attractions usually develop a brand organically over time. Strategic branding is planned with specific results intended within a given timeframe, just like any marketing endeavor.

Why brand a city?

Branding is a very important tool. Businesses employ clever marketing tactics to attract the right customers and build a positive reputation. Celebrities bank use the benefits of their personal brand to gain publicity and fame, in turn attracting fans, sponsors and contracts. Just like businesses and celebrities, cities can capitalize on effective branding too. As they can use branding to increase tourism by painting a positive picture of what it is like to live, work and visit the city. Cities can also use branding to strengthen ties with local businesses and to positively reinforce the core values that form the foundation of a city to extend to:

Economic Development. The local economy is the backbone of any city. Without a sustainable local economy, a community cannot thrive. Instead, small businesses will decline, unemployment will increase and residents will leave. Branding is an integral part of improving a city’s visibility and can help promote sectors that attract tourists, businesses and residents. Moreover, successful businesses look for highly-regarded cities for expansion. Communities can make the most of these opportunities by branding themselves as hubs where new, existing and growing businesses can thrive. Attracting businesses in this way boosts revenue, allows municipalities to offer of more services for residents and improves the overall quality of life for everyone. Additionally, well-executed campaigns can attract the attention of regional government for more potential funding and investment.

New Residents. Professionals and families look for great communities to relocate to for work, quality schools, and just to write the next chapter of their lives. Whether its international travelers wanting to move to a new country to local citizens seeking a new destination to call home, city marketing makes your community visible on their radar. Communities can reach out to these potential residents by branding themselves as a desirable location. Cities can do this by promoting their efforts and initiatives in areas such as: employment, housing, tax, healthcare, safety, education and numerous others. Don’t forget your local attractions and communities. Appealing to these potential residents helps develop a city’s economy while filling gaps in the job market for crucial talent. For example, your new downtown tech hub can be a magnet for highly coveted developers and technology conferences.

Tourism. People want to travel to places that are unique, interesting, popular and safe. Cities can harness the power of branding to help boost local visits by promoting themselves as a trendy enclave, serene community, or prime locale for celeb sightings and filming. Cities with effective branding can appeal to various audiences by offering captivating attractions or creating initiatives to brand themselves as welcoming places to visit.

Branding allows a city to positively represent themselves, combat negative stereotypes and clarify what it means to be part of that city. An emphasis on values strengthens communities with the city, improves relations with other cities, increases public exposure and enables the city to develop and refine its identity. This process is important for cities regardless of population size or financial means.

Becoming memorable is how your city can capitalize on your unique attributes and grow. Some cities are busy and never sleep, others are great at keeping many secrets, and still others are tranquil and appreciate serenity. Regardless of which category your city falls within, branding is invaluable for a city to properly market itself for long-term sustainability.

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