Like it or not, we are always competing. As cities and regions, we compete for
investment, for population, for workers, for businesses and much more. As councils, we compete for the best employees, the highest community satisfaction ratings and for recognition.
That’s why it’s so important to understand the two branding forces at play in a local government environment –
the Place brand
(City or Region brand
or Council brand
With Placemaking becoming much more prominent in recent years, most people are very familiar with Place branding. It’s those things that people think about when they think about a Place.
So, for example, New York – what first comes to mind when you think of New York? Vibrant, hectic, “city that never sleeps”, stylish, exciting.
Tasmania – Unspoilt environment, natural beauty, quality food bowl, safe, compact
Adelaide - Vibrant, cultured, artistic, refined, plentiful open spaces
So it’s fairly easy to think about a place and what it’s like. The things that define it, essentially, create the Place brand. What it’s known for, how it’s perceived by others.
The Place brand is what people will think of when they consider living there, working there, taking their leisure time there, investing there or setting up a business in the area.
So, a Place brand is the core basis for competition between cities and regions. It encompasses what the region offers, WHY it’s a great place to live and so on.
What about your city? What is its Place brand? Do you know? It would be a good idea to run some research if not, with local residents and non-residents from other council areas to see if your Place brand is really what you think it is….
But there’s another side to the story - the Council brand. Just because Adelaide is vibrant, cultural, refined and compact – are these the brand attributes of the council too? No – they are not. Place brand attributes and council brand attributes are different. They will always be different, but they should be aligned.
The City of Adelaide is doing a great job of aligning their City and Council brands.
A quick look at their website shows not only what the council offers but also what events and activities are scheduled in the city. This is just one example of how a city can support a Place brand.
In doing so they are immediately seen as supportive but also facilitative – they are aligned with the vibrancy of the city – it’s not just something happening on its own without council involvement or direction.
Unfortunately, there are many examples of cities and regions with a very powerful and positive brands where the council does not enjoy such a strong positive association. You’ve probably heard it before – “love the place, but the council is terrible” – poor service, hard to deal with and so on. Make sure you are not one of those!
So, just as you work hard to promote the Place brand, you need to also distil and promote positive brand associations with your Council brand.
The Council brand will have a large impact on ratepayer satisfaction, employee pride and also attraction of high calibre candidates.
If a city is vibrant and exciting, and a great place to work and play, what sort of council is needed to facilitate that? Probably forward-thinking, easy to work with, innovative, service-oriented.
If a city or region is known for its natural beauty and unspoilt environment, the council had better have pretty strong brand attributes of environmental awareness and environmental responsibility, in order to benefit from the association of the Place brand.
What’s your Council brand? Do you know?
Do some research, find out if your Place brand and your Council brand is aligned to ensure that your brand attributes are seen as supporting the Place brand.
That way, you will be more likely to be seen to be contributing to the creation of a successful and desirable place to live, work and play.