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Place Branding Roundup!

Date Icon Mar 05, 2021
Author Icon Staff

With the past few years, and especially 2020, having seen a sea-change in the place branding category, TopRight decided to focus on the topic for the start of this new year. It’s been a stimulating and informative period of research and writing, capped off with our place branding webinar at the end of February—which you should check out now if you weren’t able to attend!

In particular, TopRight’s two in-house subject-matter experts on place-branding, Judi Freidman and Brandon Palanker, took the opportunity to apply their critical insights. Their fantastic articles were based on in their years of experience in the place branding space, and their breadth of knowledge is impressive and thought-provoking. We also heard from CEO Bill Fasig, Chair Dave Sutton, Natalie Ross, and Chris Weissman—all of their recent pieces are linked below.

If you missed any of this work, or you’re a team member at a municipality, city, or other region and want to find out more of what we offer, please contact us directly. Otherwise, read the full articles and follow the links below.

For the next two months, until May 2021, TopRight will focus on the topic of  Brand Craft: The Changing Role of Storytelling. For sure, we have a lot to say on this issue, having been solidly in the storytelling and brand crafting game since the early 2000s.

So if you haven’t yet, please sign up for our blog. Or give CEO Bill Fasig a shout on Twitter or LinkedIn. Meanwhile, enjoy the roundup!


Chair Dave Sutton wrote about skyrocketing e-commerce sales and e-commerce strategy for 2021.

“One thing we learned in business during 2020 is that it pays to be lean and nimble.  If you are going to survive and thrive , you must minimize your overhead, keep your expenses under control and focus on keeping your customers happy. If you were lucky enough to get a PPP loan under the CARES Act for your business, that was only a short-term, stopgap measure to help you make payroll, pay the rent, and service any debt that you may have on the books.  You just bought some time. But even in the best of times, 90% of startup businesses fail.”

CEO Bill Fasig wrote a CEO Insight on dealing with change, the future, and place branding.

“What are you doing to embrace the future? Because we all know that, despite the Groundhog Day-like repetitiveness of daily life, permanent changes have taken place here—and there are plenty more still to come. We can see some of these changes in our own lives, organizations, employees, customers and clients. This is not just because of the obvious changes of a new president and a new Covid-19 vaccine. What we are seeing is that the economy has changed. Our people have changed—which means that customers and consumer behavior have changed as well.”

Partner Judi Friedman wrote about the “why” of where you live and writing compelling place brand story.

“Lately, there has been an evolution bringing together marketing and “place making,” demonstrating that a place’s two audiences (businesses and tourists) are actually deeply linked by an underlying essence. Or a “mystique,” if you will. What gives a place its mystique is its story, and good story is rooted in authenticity. But the mission of smart marketers in the place branding space is not to show up, wave a wand, and invent a brand story out of nothing. It’s to help the local administration see what their place already is and where it can go. You then take what’s there and develop a narrative that powerfully conveys the authentic essence of that place.”

Partner Brandon Palanker wrote about the evolving role of marketing place.

“Marketing of place has begun to target potential new residents over business itself, offering education, community, culture, and society. But to target potential new residents you have to have something more for them—and that something more is usually local institutions, night life, affordable living, and other lifestyle drivers. As a result, messaging has evolved from emphasizing overall quality of life like good public schools and a nice or safe neighborhood, to a strong emphasis on the quality of place: amenities, culture, and easy access to both.”

CMO Chris Weissman wrote about speaking a new language for 2021.

“We’re at the threshold of a transformed age. We have new vaccines which, for the most part, are showing promise and the numbers of cases and deaths appear to be abating. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re headed in the right with a new administration in the White House who, regardless of our leanings, is trying to tone down the political rhetoric. For the first time in a while, morale feels like it’s improving. The economy came back quicker and better than many economists predicted. And a very recent study shows people are feeling optimistic about the future.”

Partner Natalie Ross wrote about how to begin your place branding journey.

“Place branders must be able to recognize what the category table-stakes versus the real differentiators are. Look for what you have to check off to put yourself in the consideration set v. what makes your brand truly invaluable. At TopRight, we make use of the Why-What-How method, asking ourselves why a place a brand is valuable, what it does to deliver the goods, and how it communicates its value proposition. We also view place branding a little differently at TopRight, using productization of public services to raise awareness, engage audiences, and finally elevate tax revenue”

There’s more!
Check out these fantastic supplementary essays and articles from around the web…


Psychology Today on how to motivate your team.

To effectively motivate your employees, find out what drives each person on your team to be successful. Then, ask how you can help: What can I do to help you to accomplish your goal?”

New York on overhauling Twitter.

“The stock isn’t even worth that much, relatively speaking… As a business proposition, Twitter’s decade-long experiment in monetizing rage and disinformation has failed..”

Entrepreneur on Covid-19’s affect on women in business.

“MIWE 2020’s top-performing economies are prime examples that gender-specific support mechanisms can make a compelling case to advance progress for women entrepreneurs and help drive post-COVID-19 economic bounce back.”

The National Interest on who will dominate the economy of the future.

“By 2030, China may find itself in a similar position to where Japan is today—a significant global economic player going nowhere quickly while aging rapidly. Unlike Japan, China will be a particularly poor position to pause its growth, given that it will be at best a middle-income nation.”

Sign up for our blog! Then follow Chair Dave Sutton , CEO Bill Fasig, and CMO Chris Weissman on Twitter. Visit us on LinkedIn. And if you still need another fix, grab a copy of one of Dave’s new books, Marketing, Interrupted or HBR’s Strategic Analytics.

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