(Mis)perceptions and (dis)information
Correcting (mis)perceptions about a place through building a more positive and attractive image is not enough to improve a place’s reputation and increase its competitiveness in the global market, whether we are talking about tourism, business, investment or talent attraction in the medium or long term.
The times we are living in, when Place Branding has become a widely used technique to brand countries, regions and cities; when places offer the near to exact same things and promote themselves in a “relatable” manner; and, when there is an overload of (dis)information making it even more difficult to establish and control one’s images. The key is for places to connect with brand audiences and position themselves as the solution to their audiences’ needs.
This is where the Central Idea comes in.
The Central Idea is the differentiating factor amidst a global marketplace where all places seem to believe that their country, region or city brands still have something to gain by reproducing already exhausted catchphrases. We’ll recognise a few examples to be digitalisation frontrunner, greatest entrepreneurial and innovative minds, embraces demanding challenges, provides solutions, beacon of openness, transparency and reliability, and so on…what’s more? These are always paired with cold hard facts and statistics.
In contrast, the Central Idea is the positive emotion or feeling that places want and can trigger in audiences’ hearts and minds upon experiencing or hearing, speaking, and thinking about that place and its people that cannot be replicated in other places. The Central Idea is the emotional link between places and their audiences, helping to build a positive, trust-based and lasting relationship.
Generating the desired emotion
The Central Idea is something that can only be felt without being spoken. It is not a slogan, but it is memorable. Brand audiences will forget about a marketing campaign, but they will always remember how they relate(d) to and feel (or felt) about a place, its businesses, and community.
The best part is that places cannot fake or force it. At the end of the day, Central Ideas and Place Brands live in audiences’ hearts and minds and require a great deal of continuous work to build and maintain. Everything you do must be aligned with your Place Brand strategy, in other words, your Central Idea: the ultimate reason why your audiences will choose to visit you, invest in you, buy from you, work for you and stick with you despite what others may say or offer.
How to define the Central Idea?
Next up, as a place, how do you define your Central Idea? As one of the most important steps, if not the most important, it will be challenging. No matter how intimidating it may be, defining your Central Idea is also the most immersive moment of Place Brand strategy development.
The Central Idea is defined through a deep dive of the place’s past, present and future and the dynamics of its identity, culture and society. It is key to understand what is so special and relevant about the place and its people, together with what is their vision for the future, their why or purpose, how they will deliver it and, very importantly, address the needs of brand audiences in doing so.
It is the awareness and recognition (by brand audiences) of the place’s journey towards its brand vision and of its positive impact that will generate the desired emotion about the place and its people. This will mark the deciding factor as to a place’s level of desirability as a choice for brand audiences.
All of this is created with, and for, all levels of stakeholders through collaborative efforts such as interviews and workshops. To help countries, regions and cities find and define their Central Idea, an essential component to any successful Place Brand strategy, Bloom Consulting follows its own methodology. Beyond an in-depth situational analysis and working sessions, the methodology includes a Central Idea Filtering Process©, applying specific criteria, or filters, such as uniqueness, relevance, and acceptance, as well as a proprietary Brand Descriptor© tool which tests potential Central Idea concepts within specified target markets.
Learn more about places and their Central Ideas.