The 14 Steps to Nation Branding is bringing value to academia by sharing practitioners’ insights with those interested in learning the fundamentals of Place Branding. This guide has been made freely available to aid in the dispersion of practical guidance to building and managing a Nation Brand

How Dr Giannina Warren of Middlesex University London is using the 14 Steps to Nation Branding 

Dr Giannina Warren, Programme Leader, BA Advertising, PR and Branding at Middlesex University London has brought the 14 Steps to Nation Branding into her classroom. Here’s how she has done so, in what ways it has proven useful, and how she intends her students to achieve a higher learning of Nation and Place Brand strategy. 

What were your initial thoughts and reaction to the 14 Steps to Nation Branding?

Our degree focuses on a range of industries and our students get a great overview of branding in many contexts, but they don’t have a lot of access into how that operates in terms of place. In creating a 3rd year Place Branding and International Diplomacy module, I wanted to give them an introduction to not only the theories and structures of how place branding operates, but also practical skills into how to actually do place branding. 

This guide dovetails quite nicely into our 2nd semester where I’m turning my students onto a more practical approach to place branding. What I really liked about it immediately was just how simple and accessible it was. It laid out in very clear detail, a linear and comprehensive guide to the steps that need to be taken. The framework is very similar to those of other brand strategies covered throughout the program, but it takes a much more holistic and stakeholder focused view. This is the entire point of what I’m trying to get the students to understand about place branding – that it operates in 3D and that they need to think in a deeper 360-degree integration of brand principles, design and experience. 

So, I love the fact that it took the basic principles that they already know and love from other industries they are studying but applied it into a completely new context.  

14 Steps to Nation Branding

How do you intend to use the guide as an educational tool in the classroom?

In our 2nd term, the students are expected to create a place brand strategy along with a pitch for work as if they were a place branding consultant. This guide will be a sort of guide for them in terms of walking them through the very steps they would need to do including, for example, doing a place audit, understanding the environment, identifying target audiences and messages.

I specifically like the fact that it highlights the need for a Central Idea because it’s the concept that will drive all of their execution decisions in the implementation of their strategy and it goes through all of the steps that they need to execute as well as evaluate the success of their labours. 

All of these steps are what I’m expecting the students to be able to do by the end of this course. It’s all laid out very easily and accessibly by this guide. 

What do you hope students will get from the 14 Steps to Nation Branding? 

I’m hoping that they’ll be able to first understand that any type of brand strategy whether it’s for a product or place has to follow a basic formula. By following that formula, you can ensure that not only are you getting all of the aspects covered that you need to, but you’re considering all of the people involved. What I like especially is this concept of stakeholder engagement and working in collaboration and partnership with organisations and with other people. 

So, seeing how the formulas they already understand in product branding operate in place branding gives them a much more global view of how industries, sectors, and organisations work together in a more public context and I think that’s really important and valuable as they embark on their careers. 

In your opinion, does the 14 Steps guide contribute to an easier understanding of an otherwise complex undertaking? 

Yes, definitely. Too often it’s been very difficult to find accessible literature for my students to read. They are often strapped for time and energy in their final year and don’t necessarily have the bandwidth for heavy academic tomes. 

By giving the students this guide in their final term of their final year of university, it being a clear, clean and practical guide, they can actually sink their teeth into it and use it right away, not only for their assessment but also for their understanding of the distinction between nation marketing and nation branding. It allows them to apply the tactical marketing principles they’ve learned into the much broader, more holistic and strategic endeavour of branding, which helps to expand their awareness at a key stage in their careers. And the fact that it was available for free as a PDF makes it really easy to take with them and keep in their arsenal as they graduate and continue to use the 14 Steps to Nation Branding moving forward.