An international brand resource for neighbourhoods, towns, cities, regions and economic clusters.

One Person's Treasure

Posted by Claire Matthews
Growing up in Quebec and Ontario, summer meant lots of swimming in lakes, which brought relief from the almost unbearable muggy heat. Here on Vancouver Island, it seldom gets hot enough for me to feel the need for total body immersion – which is just as well, because places to swim outside are a lot harder to find.

The lakes that are open to swimming are talked about in almost exclusively glowing terms. People sigh and say "oh, we had the best day by the lake." But when I go, I'm often disappointed. I find the lakeshores dirty and uncomfortable. I dislike the crowds of loud families and teenagers. I'm astounded at the number of huge inflatable rafts floating in even the most remote corners, full of giggling couples and their cases of beer. And I'm distressed by the noise of motor boats and the screaming water-skiers and wake-boarders hanging on behind them.

"Man, what a fuddy-duddy," you must be thinking (well, you're probably thinking something much ruder than that, but this is a public blog after all). And you'd be right. Because in fact I actively dislike things that other people love about the lake.

When I wonder why I'm not enjoying a destination that everyone else seems to be crazy about, and think that I must be missing something, I'm forgetting one really important point: places are branded – either deliberately or through word of mouth – to a specific audience. If you're not part of that audience, then one of two things will happen:

  1. The branding won't work on you – which is why I've never booked a trip to Florida during reading week (even when I had a reading week); or
  2. You'll ignore the branding and go to a place anyway, and wonder why you don't enjoy it.

 Obviously I'm simplifying a bit here. Clearly, I don't hate every single aspect of spending a day at the lake. And many places can appeal to a wide range of audiences. But the very best branding is carefully targeted branding. That means that, if you're working on branding a place, you have to know who your target audience is. On the flip side it means that, as a brand consumer, you have to be savvy enough to assess why a brand does or doesn't appeal to you, and whether a place is going to meet your personal needs – because there are actually very few places that "everybody" loves or "everybody" hates.

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Placebrand.ca© is a Taiji Brand Group project that explores the role and importance of place branding. We invite your comments and contributions at any time.