Why is Place Branding is important UK destinations?

Place making remains high on the agenda for multiple destinations across the world, spurred on by the ever-increasing popularity of social media and the rise of online influencers. It isn’t, however, a new concept; the notion of place making actually originated four decades ago when New York launched the ‘I Love New York campaign’ in 1977.

However, creating this strong, individual identity is something that is becoming more and more important for a huge range of destinations as competition for visitors increases. The place making process usually involves creating a strong brand based on a thorough understanding of a destination’s heritage and unique offerings and teaming it with a flagship event, community initiative, or talking point.

Place making has been growing in the UK for a number of years, as we take inspiration from our European counterparts such as Las Ramblas in Barcelona and the underground music scene in Berlin. Looking at how it has worked on a regional scale in the North West of England, Manchester continues to capitalise on its thriving food and drink, music and arts scene with various events annually, most notably the now world-renowned Manchester International Festival. In addition, the once no-man’s land of Salford Quays has also had an injection of positive place making, with the arrival of the BBC, the Lowry theatre, and the myriad of open air events and restaurants that have flocked there in recent years. And it’s also worth mentioning that Liverpool did a great job of place making when it was made the European Capital of Culture back in 2008.

Here at Better with Jam we have worked on a number of projects for clients that set out to raise the profile of destinations, most recently the Visit Lancaster and Morecambe Bay visitor websites which were launched last summer and last month respectively. Both projects were crucial for these two locations to create a really strong brand and attract more visitors.

As part of my continued interest and commitment into Place Branding, I’ll be speaking at an event this Thursday 15th March in Donegal, Ireland, which explores how the county can best create an entrepreneurial legacy following a number of developments including the new Star Wars film, the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open golf tournament, and the Clipper 2017/18 Round the World Yacht Race.

Donegal – like many other destinations in the same position would – is keen to capitalise on this, as it has the potential to bring millions into the regional economy and businesses. And the destination is in a prime position to do so. This event sets to do the hugely important job of ensuring consumers receive consistent messaging and tone of voice about Donegal, no matter what the source. We’ll be talking about exactly what community enterprises, private businesses and public agencies can do to support the delivery of brilliant products, services and visitor experiences.

I’ll be speaking alongside other top experts in the field including Dr Edward McKeever, head of a research team in Donegal and Derry looking at how a sense of place influences entrepreneurship; Mark Freel a Royal Bank of Canada Professor at the Telfer School of Management who specialises in entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development; Jacqueline Jackson, an expert in leadership learning; and Joan Crawford, team manager for Failte Ireland.

It looks set to be a great event and I look forward to contributing some valuable advice, based upon years of working with destinations to do just this. What are your thoughts on place making and which destinations do you think have done it best?