Place branding

How to turn places into brands with place branding

  • Place Branding startete durch das ikonische "I Love NY"

Sil­van Wyser | 26 April 2023 | 5 min read­ing time


Placebrand­ing in­creases the at­tract­ive­ness of places – cit­ies, re­gions, set­tle­ments, des­tin­a­tions – and strengthens their iden­tity and re­pu­ta­tion. With tar­geted place brand­ing, a "place" is po­si­tioned in or­der to achieve a de­sired ef­fect with vari­ous stake­hold­ers and to be able to sur­vive in com­pet­it­ive mar­kets.


Place brand­ing is not an­oth­er buzzword from the mar­ket­ing scene. The term ori­gin­ated in the 1970s when the ad­vert­ising agency Wells Rich Greene was com­mis­sioned by the New York City au­thor­it­ies to cre­ate a strong cam­paign for New York State. The res­ult went down in his­tory. In a taxi wait­ing at a red light, graph­ic de­sign­er Milton Glaser scribbled the simple idea "I♡NY" on a piece of pa­per with a pen­cil. (The ori­gin­al design is on dis­play at the Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art). This logo las­ted for dec­ades, was copied 100s of times and ex­per­i­en­ced the ab­so­lute peak of its pop­ular­ity after the ter­ror­ist at­tacks of 11th Septem­ber 2001. Milton Glaser died at the age of 91 on the 26th of June 2020 his birth­day and is con­sidered the spir­itu­al fath­er of place brand­ing from "I♡NY". Re­cently, the fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of the logo was presen­ted. De­sign­er Gra­ham Clif­ford was re­spons­ible for re­pla­cing that the sweep­ing serifs with a simple Hel­vet­ica. The red heart was re­placed by an emoji and the "I" be­came a "We". New York­ers are dis­mayed and Milton Glaser is prob­ably turn­ing in his grave.


What dis­tin­guishes place brand­ing from cor­por­ate brand­ing?

The brand­ing of com­pan­ies – or products – is part of a mar­ket­ing strategy and serves to mar­ket them. Place brand­ing is about the de­vel­op­ment of a big, vis­ion, which is first worked out; i.e. what you stand for and what you are good at or want to be good at. This vis­ion is al­ways cre­ated by in­volving vari­ous stake­hold­ers, usu­ally the loc­als. The sub­se­quent com­mu­nic­a­tion of this vis­ion is un­der­stood as place brand­ing. Or to put it more simply: while cor­por­ate brand­ing should have an im­pact on turnover, place brand­ing fo­cuses on sat­is­fy­ing vis­it­ors, ten­ants or res­id­ents. In this sense, place brand­ing also dif­fers from clas­sic loc­a­tion or des­tin­a­tion mar­ket­ing.


How to do effective place branding

  • 01

    Identify your target audience


    A very important step on the way to the right place branding is to identify the different stakeholders. Think about people. And their needs.

  • 02

    Give your place brand a face


    People are interested in people – and less in architecture. This not only affects the visual language, but also the content.

  • 03

    Focus on the right design


    An important feature of successful place branding is the focus on the uniqueness of the object. On the essential. On the simple. Think of "I♡NY".

  • 04

    Work with taglines


    You can get more people interested in your cause if you create a perfect claim – something that makes them want to know more.

  • 05

    Create up-to-date and authentic content


    All information must be up to date and as authentic as possible. Why? Because visitors will love it. And Google too, by the way.


You think place brand­ing doesn't work? Then take the test:

A) Which city in Switzer­land is called "the city of lights"?

B) In which coun­try do you see the north­ern lights (au­rora boreal­is) best?

C) Which (Amer­ic­an) city nev­er sleeps?

D) Which is the city of love (ok - that one was a gift)?

E) Where is the "Red Square"?

F) And last but not least: Which Swiss city is called a fog hole...?


You will find the an­swers be­low.


We Craffties have im­ple­men­ted nu­mer­ous place brand­ing pro­jects. And even though we are known for our mod­esty: All of them have been suc­cess­ful.


  • Kunsthaus Zürich E-Commerce
    Website, Online Ticketing, Engineering
  • Zug Estates Placemaking
    Brand positioning, Touchpoint-Design
  • Losinger Marazzi Placemaking
    Community Management, Branding
  • BG Frohheim Digital Branding
    Service Design, Website, Content Creation
  • Zürcher Theater Spektakel Design
    User Experience, Digital Design

Do you want to know more about it?

We have time for an un­com­plic­ated con­ver­sa­tion about your ♡ Place.

Contact us now




Solu­tions to the test:
A) Lu­cerne | B) Ice­land | C) New York | D) Par­is | E) Mo­scow | F) Ol­ten