Book Review: ‘An Insider’s Guide to Place Branding- Shaping the identity and Reputation of Cities, Regions, and Countries.

How can we make sure our cities, regions, and countries are attractive, our communities welcoming and resilient and our economies sustainable?

How can place branding offer direction and support initiatives aimed at sustainability; social, environmental, cultural, and economic well-being?

In an attempt to answer these 2 questions, Florian Kaefer the editor of has authored a new book: An Insider’s Guide to Place Branding- Shaping the identity and Reputation of Cities, Regions, and Countries.

I am honoured to be one of the people given the opportunity to review the book by its publisher; Springer .

We made a conscious decision to review Chapter One since it deals with the fundamentals. At we have always made the case that Place Branding in Africa lags because it has always been anchored on the wrong foundation. The foundation of place marketing and not place branding. This chapter helps you understand the difference and how a misunderstanding of the two is a slippery dive to wrong outcomes

From the onset, Florian is clear; that his book is not a practitioner’s reflection based on his own consulting experience neither is it an academic textbook.

This book is the result of a disciplined focus on connecting people and ideas across disciplines and borders. It reflects what he considers important and good practice based on his conversations with many of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners dedicated to developing and nurturing community identity and place reputation.

At the end of it, he hopes that we will find it useful and inspiring. It will serve our purpose in helping our communities strengthen their identities, enhance their image and reputation, or pursue our own studies and explorations of this fascinating world we live in.

Ours is the simple task of putting these ideas to test and hoping they help us achieve better Place Brands in Africa. Let’s Get on with it.

This book comes in 2 parts: Part One covers Place Branding Essentials and Part 2 is a series of Interviews with Experts.

Chapter 1. Understanding Place Branding.

After the many definitions of place branding available in many texts and by many authors, it seems that Place branding as Florian notes boils down to one powerful and simple yet complicated question: Why Choose Here? His definition of Place Brand is a rack of ribs that you should tear on rib by rib. In fact, if you unpack that definition alone or if there is anything you will get from this book, it is to get this definition imprinted in your head. Let it be the Genesis of every strategy you work on. Print it on A2 and paste it on your walls.

In answering that great question of ‘Why Choose Here’ this book offers you three dimensions anchored on community, talent, capital, and building and maintaining a legacy as a place brand.

With that definition and its broad and multi-faceted aspects, comes the question: what in God’s name is place branding? You will find pointers in the three dimensions mentioned above and an appreciation of what other thought leaders think in the section ‘What is Place Branding?’

And now from an African perspective. This book provides very good insights on the pain point of dealing with advertising agencies. You see in most of Africa, we do not have specialized Place Branding agencies. We continually rely on advertising agencies whose methodology of work is grounded on private sector branding. Their focus is campaigns and short-term results and outcomes yet place branding is broad and the outcomes take time to realize. With this also comes the conversation about the difference between place branding and place marketing.

For those from East Africa’s long-distance running countries, you are already familiar with marathons. Place branding is a marathon, not a sprint, learn how to pace it, how to get your time splits right, and how not to hit the wall at 35kilometers of the marathon. Place marketing is a sprint. Get to know the difference.

Finally and most importantly ‘An Insider’s Guide to Place Branding- Shaping the identity and Reputation of Cities, Regions, and Countries’ makes the case for the centrality of stakeholders in place branding. It states that place branding brings diverse groups of interested but otherwise disassociated or even competing parties together, updates them about the shortcomings and strengths of the place, and fills them in about what others are doing.

In conclusion, this Chapter is a must-read for all of us involved in place branding and place marketing. Click on this link and enjoy a preview of this chapter:

We look forward to sharing our review of Chapter 2- Keys for Place Branding Success. Until next time goodbye, good luck, and Happy reading. You can click on this link to buy the book: You could actually buy it chapters.

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