Branding A Place

Branding A Place

When you think of some of the world’s most iconic destinations, it is easy to correlate cultural landmarks. When you think of Italy, a country with many cities that are household names one can think of the epicenter for art, fashion, food and picturesque landscapes. Film, magazines, and television shows also aid in heightening a country’s brand awareness.


The travel and tourism industry invokes memories that last beyond the actual vacation. Marketing desirable locations contribute to a location’s economy and employ millions in its sister industry, hospitality management. Place branding is the design of a destination that appeals to foreign publics. The destination can be as specific as a city or branding a nation. As mentioned in my previous blog post, Place Brand Observer defines the term as “the process of discovering, creating, developing, and realizing ideas and concepts for (re)constructing places identities, their defining traits and building a sense of place.” Place branding brings tourism, investment and brand awareness to a destination. What I have learned thus far as a public diplomacy masters candidate combined with my travel experience has piqued my interest in place branding.


Studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain positively altered my worldview. Traveling overseas provides the lesson to exercise cultural competency and diversity tolerance. I gained further knowledge of another country’s culture, numerous languages, traditions and ways of business. To truly practice cultural competency, one must realize the pace of an ever-changing world. Furthermore, my interest in Barcelona was introduced via the Disney Channel movie, The Cheetah Girls. Upon arriving, I was unaware of the primary language spoken, Catalan. Differentiating signs, directions and menus between Catalan and Spanish were quite challenging; however, the experience pulled me out of my comfort zone. Reminiscing on those nettlesome moments, that obstacle strengthened my linguistic skills and patience. Also, it’s interesting that the visuals from a movie can drive people to visit a destination. Studying abroad provided the lesson of cultural competency and set the foundation for my desire to learn about destination marketing.


There are many conferences where tourism and place branding practitioners convene from all over the world for an exchange of ideas and network. Many of these organizations offer an exclusive student program that offers an opportunity to meet prospective employers and grow professionally.


Every vacation tells a story. Place brand marketing creates the blueprint of all the possible ways one can enjoy their getaway. As a master’s candidate, my educational background offers a unique perspective toward my goals. My unquenchable wanderlust combined with my passion for storytelling has led to my pursuit of a career in place branding. My insight as a public relations and international relations practitioner maintains relationship building on the foreign and domestic agenda. Communication is a skill that is vital in every aspect of our lives. Communicating the goals of a brand to increase engagement, funding and favorable perspectives make place branding the ideal career path.


Take a peek at the highlights from the 2018 World Travel Market Conference. You never know you might find yourself at the next one!

Erica Rawlins
Erica Rawlins is a graduate student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She is studying Public Diplomacy. Her interests lie in travel, tourism and nation branding. Upon graduating from Syracuse University she hopes to tie her interests into a career that impacts emerging markets.

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