I have on occasion written about creating place brands and have provided links at the bottom of this blog post to those previous posts. However, today I am writing about how to create compelling places upon which the brands would be built.
Aesthetics always matter. The natural and built environment (architecture, landscaping, etc.) contribute to that as does public art. Fountains and other water features also add to a place's appeal. Some places have unique or distinctive edifaces, landmarks or other design features that can become those places' distinctive icons. Walkability is becoming increasingly important, especially to younger generations. Intermodal public transportation also needs to be addressed. Street activation comes from having the right amenities at street level as well as the programming of interesting concerts, performances, activities and events. Buildings should not appear to be large walls at street level. Rather, they should have interesting window displays and inviting entrances. Easy access to amenities is crucial. Creating density and having a tipping point of residents is essential.
Colleges and universities usually enhance the environment, as do public spaces, restaurants, museums and art galleries. Town squares are particularly appealing.
Citizen input in the form of focus groups and design charrettes ensure that the place meets the needs and desires of its residents. Community organizing also helps keep a place on track for success. Citizens should invited and given opportunities to participate in the community.
Ideally, a vibrant place should have all of the elements of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). That is, it is strong in both technology and the arts. And ideally, entrepreneurship is encouraged and enabled. Innovation zones that create close proximity between different entrepreneurial ventures and creatives will spur innovation and growth.
Regarding the more mundane, parking is adequate and clean public restrooms are strategically located. Parking should be at the perimeter or hidden below ground or behind buildings so that street level activity is based foot and bicycle traffic. The place should not be dissected or otherwise divided into separate pieces by large highways. Strategically placed maps and wayfinding are also important. All of these together should lead to a self-sustaining ecosystem. Doing all of this right makes place branding much easier.
These are my other posts related to place making and place branding:
- Branding Places
- Branding Municipalities
- Branding Municipalities
- Airports and Place Branding
- Branding Rochester, NY
- Branding and Place of Origin
- City Mottos/Taglines/Slogans