Helps communities become more admired
Are you thinking about the reputation of your city, region or country in this globalized and multipolar world? Well, if so, you are in the right place as this is uniquely the topic that I advise governments and their stakeholders on; which I study, speak and write about (for 20+ years).
- I advised clients such as the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates government, government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, regional governments of three provinces in the Netherlands, and the City of Ghent (Belgium).
- I was a keynote speaker at many international conferences such as the Club of Venice, Kyiv International Economic Forum, World Cities Culture Forum, European Cities Marketing, European Travel Commission, Tel Aviv Cities Summit, or the International Association of Convention Centres.
- I am founding chairman of the International Place Branding Association and have been an adjunct or visiting scholar at Tsinghua University, Beijing; the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad; the University of Leuven, Belgium; Rotterdam School of Management, the Netherlands; Loughborough University London Campus; IULM University Milano, Italy; and several institutes in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I also teach place branding on the UNESCO World Heritage at Work Master’s programme in Torino, Italy.
- I have written numerous papers and (co-)authored/edited 5 books on the topic of place branding. The award-winning book Imaginative Communities was published in English, Portuguese and Spanish. I am co-editor of the journal of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, and contributor to Apolitical, the World Economic Forum Agenda and The Economist Intelligence Unit Perspectives.
- I held positions in South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium and Dubai, United Arab Emirates and have a PhD and Master’s degree from Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management.
How it started
Driving cars through Europe and the Sahara Desert to sell them in Niger (in 1989 and 1990) and exploring China and Russia on the Trans-Siberia Express (1992) as a student, I quickly realised that what we think we know about the world is very superficial, cliché and stereotype. This made me embark on a PhD supervised by Erasmus University Rotterdam professor Frank M. Go (may he rest in peace), to whom I am forever grateful for pushing my career in the direction that it took.
Which topics linked to the branding and reputation of places am I most passionate about?
Positioning Strategy, Identity and Image, Symbolic Actions / Imaginative Initiatives, Community Imagination. I typically advise in areas such as place identity, image, reputation, economic competitiveness, tourism policy and strategy, educational policy, tourism and investment promotion, and major international events. This is approached from a strategic reputation management perspective, which is based on the premise that places build reputation through actions, as opposed to propaganda. I also co-authored the Good Country Index.
Reputation management and strategy consulting, research, training and public speaking.
My research and experience show that for cities, regions or countries to be admired they:
- have to be admirable
- through a sense of identity, belonging and virtue
- by which to influence international perceptions
- with access to mainstream and social media buzz
- by building unique experiences
- through imagination and leadership
- and community collaboration