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The branding of places


Most people would agree that branding is a powerful and important exercise in the world of business. We recognize that brand equity is something that pays dividends in the future.

When you walk around a city with a Starbucks, Tim Hortons, or some other coffee cup in hand, you are sending signals about who you are as a person and consumer. So, you could argue that you’re consuming the cup, as much as you are consuming the coffee.

But one area that still feels like it’s in its infancy is place branding. That is, the branding of nations, regions, cities, and places. I’ve talked a lot about the business of cities and how impressions are created around cities, but I’ve never explicitly talked about place branding.

However, it is an area on the rise. Monocle has written extensively about the importance of nation branding and there are firms, such as Vancouver-based Resonance, that now specialize in the strategy and branding of places.

Here’s a short 5 minute video that they prepared talking about place branding and their approach to it. If you can’t see the video below, click here.


But at the same time, there are more grassroot ways in which a place brand can emerge. Think about the number of times Jay-Z has referred to himself as the Brooklyn boy or Drake has promoted Toronto in one of his videos. It’s hard to measure the impact of these sorts of things, but I am sure there is one.

Here’s another example – a 4 minute video of Drake talking about why he loves Toronto. Click here if you can’t see it below.

Recently, you may have heard that Drake is about to give Toronto a new moniker: The 6. Some think it is in honor of our two main area codes 416 and 647, and I think that’s probably a good guess.

But whatever the reason, I thought it was an interesting exercise in place branding. So I decided to partner with Toronto-based design firm Badd Press and make a “The 6” t-shirt (shown at the top of this post). You can get yours for $30 by visiting shopATC.

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