Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Place Branding Book

Bill Baker of Total Destination Management has just published a new book called Destination Branding for Small Cities. You can get a quick preview on Amazon.com. Wow, do I wish I had this book 30 years ago. I think Bill titled it for small cities so they wouldn't presume it was beyond their reach. Smart move because many do presume it is, but this book is perfect for communities of any size, even sub-elements of a community like districts or neighborhoods.

The road maps he provides to distilling a community's brand are invaluable. So many people, even after scores of patient explanations, still think a brand is a logo or tagline or something you buy off the shelf from an advertising or PR agency (although services like those can be very useful in deploying a brand, especially if the destination marketing organization doesn't have specialists on staff or needs assistance). For the attention-deficit crowd, logos and taglines are obviously the most visually intriguing elements of a brand, but they come last not first, and they are only a signature.

Place branding is a specialty... much more complex in many ways than branding of services or products. It is a slippery slope once a community sets a course to reassess or distill its brand. Durham was lucky to find Bill Baker. He isn't pretentious. He listened. He adapted. He wasn't afraid to tell us what we didn't want to hear. He wouldn't let the process be politicized. He was patient with process, and Durham required and deserved a very thorough process. He drove me nuts sometimes. But he takes so few clients that Durham was exceptionally fortunate.

The fact that he has put so much of the process in a book like this doesn't mean a place branding specialist isn't needed to facilitate the actual process. It just means the process is easier for stakeholders unfamiliar with marketing or fearful the outcome won't be what they have "predetermined."


Anonymous said...

With all the changes going on in Durham, how does this change the branding efforts for the city? There is so much to keep track of already, then throw in all the organizations with their own efforts to market the city and county. How do you navigate the mixed messages? At what point do you try to call together all the voices to sing from the same song sheet?

Reyn said...

Actually Durham went through and agreed upon an overarching branding process. Its written up in the book as a best practice.

Even though DCVB is the only messenger fully marketing Durham, the overarching brand was evolved to help all other messengers sing off the same sheet music.

The Chamber and DDI did varying levels of a process to brand their organization but those aren't brands for Durham. And even organizational brands like those must be far deeper than a logo and a tagline to be a brand.

close to 250 organizations and businesses are now displaying the overarching brand so it is working quite well