Place Branding Lessons from Davos

Davos Place Branding

Limited access a gift for some big events.

It is always nice to write a blog from Europe and nothing more stunning than to be doing one from Davos in the Swiss Alps. We currently have the pleasure to be working on a project with the Davos Music Festival. It is a brand strategy and identity project and we will publish more once it is complete. However, despite how well skype has been serving our needs from a communication perspective, there is nothing like face to face contact, and to get a first hand feel for the magic of the Davos environment, which is a critical dimension in the positioning of the classical music festival.

Being involved in the project was the result of our E3 colleague Chris Ongarello and his digital agency Duck Dive. Chris introduced us into the mix from a brand perspective and it has been a stimulating and rewarding experience. However, from day one what has been interesting is that we knew nothing of the Davos Music Festival but we knew something of Davos, thanks to one of its other signature events, the World Economic Forum, held every year in January.

The international organisation behind the World Economic Forum is committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Their flagship event in Davos is an invitation only meeting, it brings together some 2,500 top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world, including health and the environment. They gather for the five-day event and attend some of the 220 sessions in the official program.

From a place branding perspective the World Economic Forum is a great example of the power of staging major events. Events that put the ‘place brand’ firmly in the minds of relevant audiences. It is an annual event, it is international and it is news worthy. It is also a reminder of the uncanny way place brands can unlock the distinctive advantages that they may bring to the table for particular types of events. Davos is nestled into the majesty of the Swiss Alps, pure air, stunning vistas. Nothing new there, you could say. But one other attribute that Davos has that makes it such a superb choice for an event such as the World Economic Forum is the natural advantage it provides when it comes to security. There are simply only a small  number of roads in and out of Davos, hence making security significantly easier.

From a place branding perspective Davos also keeps investing in the infrastructure necessary stage large events. The latest extensions and upgrades to the Congress Centre in 2010 has taken the hosting capacity to 5,000 attendees. However, Davos must also never lose sight of the fact that each time it hosts the World Economic Forum it attracts about 500 journalists from online, print, radio and television. These particular 500 visitors have the capacity to represent to the world not only the outcomes of the forum but also the amazing beauty of Davos. In terms of place branding the attributes of the Davos not only need to be experienced in all their splendor, they also need to be broadcast to the wider world. That is something that should not be left to chance. The media should be gifted an experience that they feel compelled to share in their story telling.

Place branding requires more than staging memorable events, it also requires communicating something of delights of what is on offer, to the many to have yet visited.

Peter Singline
Brand Scientist 

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