World Expo Shanghai – A Mecca of Place Brand Design

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Place Branding on a Global Scale
Just last week I was in Shanghai for World Expo and was reminded of what a stunning example of place brand design it collectively represents.

Essentially Expo is a trade show, where the many countries of the world sell themselves from a tourism, immigration and business investment perspective though their pavilions which act as grand brand gestures. As with all trade shows, some organizations have better brand stories to tell and some are better at engaging the audience with their brand story telling. But regardless of the quality of the pavilions and their exhibits, World Expo really is the holy grail of place branding.

The pavilions themselves take-on the role of the key communication channel. As you wander the huge sight, you are drawn to the pavilions by their external design (and sometimes by how long the queue to get in is). In brand communication terms, it’s alot like browsing through a magazine full of ads, each designed to connect with a particular target market and communicate an immediate brand message in order to engage the reader. Many of the pavilions are impressively designed, are a handful are just sublime. The sublime ones are those that are not only stunning to look at, but also communicate a sense of the spirit of the country they represent.

Here are a few of the stand-outs for me, each a great and bold piece of place brand communication design:

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packaging designers

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retail brand designers

property brand designers

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And as with all of China, there were a few highlights of international translation. Charmingly misguided Mandarin/English language translation like this Expo sign were never far away.

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Dave Ansett, Brandamentalist
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