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The foundations of the brand

A lot of cities and regions have adopted a place-branding approach.
A lot of cities and regions have adopted a place-branding approach.

What is place branding ?

Place branding is an approach towards promoting the assets of a particular area, which is adopted in relation to clearly defined targets. It is based on achieving a distinct market position. There are many such examples: Only Lyon, 100% Alsace, Montpellier Unlimited, I Amsterdam, Be.Brussels, Flanders State of the Art, etc., to cite just a few examples from nearby cities and regions.

It’s a demand-driven approach that puts the client right at the center of the process. Positioning is progressively achieved in light of the benefits sought by the target audience and their perception of the relevant region. The appropriateness of the positioning has to be confirmed by its residents.

Branding a geographical location does not just involve launching new graphics or a simple logo.

It is no longer limited to running high-profile advertising campaigns in the media. The branding policy needs to reflect the behavior of the stakeholders in all their activities and projects.

The purely promotional part is just one of many aspects. The organisation of major events, the ability of educational institutions to attract foreign students in large numbers, international collaboration with other geographically based entities, networking among companies, competitiveness hubs and clusters, and the level of internationalization seen among public and private players: these are all relevant factors whn establishing a branding policy.

Why have a Walloon brand at all?

  • To stand out in an increasingly globalised world in a modern, careully considered way. It is vital to stress the value of differentiation in order to appeal to the target audience, just as many other cities and regions do, both in Europe and around the world;
  • To increase name recognition for Wallonia as a region that’s reinventing itself and that is innovative and completely open for business;
  • To encourage networking at both regional and international levels, which is securely anchored around the brand;
  • To publicize all the region’s assets around a readily recognized focal point. The brand is a vehicle for mobilization and a unifying factor, which helps to give the region a strong profile, whether economically, or in terms of tourism and culture.

Wallonia’s positioning

This is the result of a methodical study conducted by the McKinsey consultancy film,which was based upon:

  • written sources (general reports on the attractiveness of Wallonia; sector-specific and themed studies),
  • a hundred interviews with decision-makers, who were selected from different types of targets,
  • benchmarking against 15 other international place-branding initiatives,
  • a survey enquiring about the perception of Wallonia among 1,000 residents and Belgian companies (500 in Wallonia, 250 in Brussels, 250 in Flanders).

Positioning focuses on four aspects.

  • Its big strength (the big differentiator): openness to the world. The tradition of opennesss found among Walloon companies, as well as those operating internationally, plus a sense of being welcome that is widely recognized in all its multicultural aspects;
  • Other trump cards for Wallonia: a sense of sharing; accessibility (its geographical location and the quality of its infrastructure); innovation and technical know-how; high quality of life;
  • Reaffirming that Wallonia belongs to Belgium;
  • A single brand for every target audience (investors, shoppers, tourists, students and foreign residents; Walloon residents).

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