Cities & Towns


What’s the benefit of branding a city or town? Developing a strong brand attracts investors, residents, and tourists. The brand can help sell local exports, strengthening businesses. It can also increase a person’s pride in the place where they live. That’s why branding has become so important to so many communities, large and small, as local leaders work to promote the place they live.

Every city has something about it that makes it a wonderful place to be. Branding a city doesn’t mean creating a fantasy out of nothing. It means discovering what’s already there, emphasizing and developing strengths, and then finding a way to tell other people about those strengths in a compelling and original way. There are many different ways to go about doing just that, but one of the smartest is holistic branding.

Why should you consider a holistic approach? Holistic branding is an especially good idea for rural communities because it allows the people who live in a rural community to succeed by being themselves. Holistic marketing has been defined as a marketing campaign as one that uses an integrated approach and a broad perspective. What does that mean, exactly? You come up with a way to market the brand to everyone who comes into contact with it: employees, members, potential members, donors, and so on.

Holistic marketing has four main parts:

Part of holistic marketing for smaller cities or towns has to do with retaining the charm of a local area even though the area is growing. As you are developing the brand of a city or town, think about what would interest a tourist. It isn’t having the same business chains that are in every major city; nobody travels because they want to go to McDonald’s unless they come from a place where McDonald’s is a novelty. Instead, pay particular attention to the characteristics that make a place special, especially when those characteristics are either rare or unique. Think geographical features, like rivers, lakes, and mountains, or important historical events, the more colorful the better. Local food, local attractions, and opportunities to find out more about the lifestyle of the people who live in a place also matter.

There is a book about brands for large cities called the City Brand Index. It is released every other year and it ranks 50 cities on six specific characteristics:

These characteristics can be helpful to smaller places when figuring out what their geographical location has to offer visitors.