Participants from Nuuk in the North to Tønder in the South of Denmark met 11 leading experts and practitioners from the field of place branding at our annual place branding conference, Kommunebranding15. The renowned place branding expert, Robert Govers, gave a motivating speech stating that place branding isn´t just packaging, and that in order to be a successful place brand you need to act in line with your characteristics. Alongside with host and branding expert Nikolaj Stagis, the experts led the participants through an educative and inspirational day in the name of place branding.
The conference was held in the City Hall of Aarhus on November 26 with the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten as media sponsor and the two participating municipalities Aarhus Kommune and Lejre Kommune as co-hosts. This years conference was Stagis’ third place branding conference. In 2013 and 2014 the conference was held at the Old Stock Exchange in Copenhagen in collaboration with The Danish Chamber of Commerce, Dansk Erhverv. You can see more than 20 videos and highlights from the last two conferences on our new website.
From prison-city to proud center of culture
Some of Denmark’s visionary mayors presented how they develop their municipalities’ local strengths in order to create strong and unique place brands. The mayor of Horsens, Peter Sørensen, enthusiastically talked about the challenges of changing the identity of Horsens from being a prison-city to being an experience-city: A journey that has taken over a decade. The development of the brand has depended on high ambitions and the courage to believe that Horsens had something unique. Furthermore the change of brand has been handled strategically and systematically, involving several instances in the municipality in order to create a gathered and focused impression of the brand.
Will power and wind power
Samsø’s mayor, Marcel Meijer, inspired us by showing, how much will power, collaboration, and resources it took, and still takes, to transform Samsø into Denmark’s “Renewable Energy Island”. The development has happened fast and over the last ten years Samsø has become 100% self-sufficient with renewable energy, positioning the Island as a strong and unique center for green energy not just in Denmark, but in a international perspective as well. Samsø is a great example of how finding a niche and focusing persistently on it can develop your brand.
Successful place brands dare to involve
Professors from the University of Copenhagen Jørgen Primdahl and Kasper Møller Hansen, pointed out that municipalities should think out of the box and be concerned with involving citizens and the local natural characteristics, when it comes to successful place brand initiatives. This is exactly what the initiators behind the Cold Hawaii initiative have done: Using the local, natural strengths and creating a strong and engaging community of passionate surfers.
Riding a wave of success
When Cold Hawaii, the surfing hot spot in the northern part of Jutland, started creating a more established place for surfers around the world to bond around a fellow passion, the locals weren´t excited and the municipality didn´t support the initiative: The surfers crowded the place and no one really believed in Cold Hawaii. The initiators managed to turn this development around. Through cooperation with multiple sponsors in and outside of Klitmøller they created a strong community and a unique center for surfing, that just keeps evolving. Robert Sand returned to the conference after a very successful presentation at our conference in 2013. See the video from Kommunebranding13.
Who are the most important stakeholders in your municipality?
To urge our participants of the Kommunebranding15 conference to find their own municipalities’ weaknesses and strengths, we challenged them through the workshop, “The Involving Brand”. During this workshop, we asked the Danish municipalities to discuss, who the most important stakeholders in their municipality are. The result? Some realized that they had forgotten their citizens in the process and others that reaching for a specific target-group had to be more central to their place brand procedures. Accordingly, place branding must be more than just creating a logo and a slogan, place branding needs to involve the entire community and be authentic to have a positive effect on the brand image.
We are receiving feedback through a survey and evaluating this years conference. So far it seems the participants from this years 25 municipalities had a great time.