Consistency in Place Branding

Nowadays, apart from my thesis endeavors, I am a team member for a place branding project for a region in Mexico and try to build up the conceptual background for a Web 2.0 branding project for Turkey (Website coming soon). Long story short, I spend much of my time reading on place branding. I used the below keywords to explain what I have in my mind about the fundamental concepts….

As I am required to write one blog post per week for my CC608 Public Affairs course at Emerson, I decided to start summarizing my thoughts on place branding. I might end up killing two birds with one stone. If these concepts continue to stay in my mind as shown in the graph, I will definitely go crazy.

I was reading Pryor & Grossbart’s work on creating a model of place branding. I am quite aware of the fact that the main scope of the article is quite wide, however, the point that struck me was consistency. Consistency is good for commercial brands but what about places? The authors claim that consistency makes little sense, but I cannot wholeheartedly agree with them.

Now place branding tries to attract investment, business, and tourism, in other words, the main aim is to generate income either via creating businesses or via tourism. On one hand, it makes much sense that a consistent promise from a place as a tourism destination is not likely to create excitement among the same audience after some time. (In plain English, after you hear the same promises a few times, you will no longer want to go there). But what is the difference between an inconsistent message and a contradictory message? If a place tries to disseminate different messages, there is the risk of credibility loss. Also during the transition periods, tourism will likely to suffer. For instance, what will happen if you change the brand a place from a fun – surfer friendly – party community to a senior friendly – quite community?

On the other hand, the business hand, I believe the best brand can be “business-friendly”. Therefore although you change your messages according to global trends (i.e. base your attraction on qualified labor, loose tax regulations, resource, geographical proximity, etc.), your consistent brand message is “we will do anything to facilitate your business process and we will compete with other places to get your business”.

To sum up, yes, a consistent message will be boring and given the global communication environment will be disregarded by the audiences. But a consistent place/community identity and a solid integrated communication strategy won’t hurt.

PS: I did not follow any citation style (well, this is a blog post). All my references to “authors, work, article, etc” point to about the following work:
Pryor, S., & Grossbart, S. (2007). Creating meaning on main street: Towards a model of place branding. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 3(4), 291-304. doi: 10.1057/palgrave.pb.6000080

PS 2: This post is also published on http://cc608.blogspot.com/ and http://placebranding.ning.com/.