In a world that is now very much dominated by fake news, media manipulation – with or without the use of artificial intelligence – social media polarisation and globalisation, cities, regions and countries invest increasingly in managing their public image and international reputation. This is also referred to as “place branding”, which is a relatively new and fast-growing discipline that requires focus in order to become more effective, efficient and meaningful. This compels us to act now.
This manifesto is a call to action for local, regional, national and international public administration professionals, elected and private sector officials, academics, and everyone concerned about the role of cities, regions and countries in the international system. We all need to consider and manage the international positioning, engagement and reputation of our city, region or country, with the aim to improve the quality of life of citizens with respect for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
What’s at stake
A public spending of tax-payers’ money that is more efficient, more effective and more meaningful.
Why we ask you to act now
The challenges and hence the public spending are expanding rapidly. The sooner we establish some principles the better. The city of Barcelona, the regional and municipal administrations of the Greater Copenhagen region, and the IPBA recognise this and have taken action by establishing this manifesto. Now we require you to sign it and share it. Most importantly, we would like you to convince your local, regional and national administrations to sign the manifesto and to adopt the supporting principles as well.
- To clarify what place branding is and what it is not and to raise its profile.
- To clarify the main principles that guarantee successful place branding.
- To clarify the scope of work for those in charge of place brand management.
Defining place branding
Perceptions and civic pride matter. Locals deserve opportunity, dignity and the ability to engage internationally with their head held high, because they come from a respected city, region or country. Hence, the reputation of a place is a public good and needs to be managed as such. Place brands serve that purpose. Building a positive reputation is a long-term objective and hence it can only succeed by doing “the right thing”, by contributing to local quality of life and wellbeing as well as to humanity and the planet. In the long run, one cannot expect to obtain a positive reputation when damaging others. Therefore, place branding is not synonymous or even an extension of pure marketing or promotion. It is not simply about attracting more tourists, more business, more migrants, more investment. It is about creating the framework that informs decisions about what kind of places we want for our citizens in the future, based on identity and purpose; how we want to position these places internationally and hence, what kind of tourism, investment, talent, trade we expect to attract or not; and within which boundaries. More importantly, the domain of place branding reaches far beyond economics; it also deals with culture, ecology, politics, or technology.
- Based on identity and purpose,
- Through collaboration between all public, private and civil society stakeholders,
- Create a long-term positioning strategy (beyond the logo),
- That is robust and capable of absorbing change and responding to crises,
- That is implemented through meaningful action (policy-, project-, investment-, infrastructure-, campaign-initiatives) contributing to society, humanity and a sustainable planet,
- Using the power of imagination to create original, creative, innovative, captivating and inspiring initiatives that catch the imagination of internal and external audiences,
- Thereby building a distinctive, relevant, authentic, consistent, meaningful image,
- Seeing reputation monitoring and management as an integral part of governance,
- Committing adequate resources and processes to it, and,
- Therefore, requiring constructive collaborative leadership to co-create the future.
Endorse this manifesto at www.change.org or by using the QR code.