Place Branding Australia set for Vivid return

The much anticipated Place Branding Australia 2024 conference will be a highlight of this year’s Vivid Sydney festival.

Geoff Parmenter: Sydney now and then

Vivid is a fitting background to the conference, which will explore case studies of how local authorities from Australia and overseas have capitalised on their unique identities to stimulate economies, attract residents and bounce back from adversity.

Conference curator Stu Speirs says Vivid Sydney is prime example of what’s meant by place branding.

“The success of Vivid lies in the fact that it’s deeply rooted in Sydney’s identity as an event,” he told Government News.

“This conference is smack bang in the middle of an extraordinary example of place branding.”

See the full program here.

Connecting community and place

Geoff Parmenter,  the Chief Executive of Events NSW when Vivid Sydney first began in 2009, will take a deep dive into this when he shares the stage with current festival director Gill Minervini to explore how Vivid Sydney connects to community and place.

Anita Mitchell: reinventing historical infrastructure

Another conference highlight is Placemaking NSW CEO Anita  Mitchell, who’s overseeing urban renewal in the Bays West precinct encompassing Rozelle Bay, White Bay and Glebe Island, and will talk about reinventing historical infrastructure in a keynote address.

Attendees will also hear from Jane Laverty, the regional director of Business NSW for the Northern Rivers, who has been working with councils across the region in a place branding project that could be rolled out across the state.

Zena Armstrong, director of the Cobargo Folk Festival, will talk about how a grass-roots exercise in place branding has helped the flood and bushfire-devastated community emerge stronger from adversity, and Amanda McEvoy, CEO Launceston Central, will reveal how to work with local enterprises to help them attract more business.

Boosting economic health and social cohesion

Place branding is a relatively new, but constantly evolving practice, that can boost economic health and social cohesion, says Speirs.

Todd Babiak: keynote

His preferred definition of place branding is one coined by Todd Babiak, the CEO of the hugely successful Brand Tasmania agency.

According to Babiak, who’ll address the conference on the opening day, place branding is a “unifying cultural expression”, which can take many forms.

That can include a large scale event like Vivid Sydney, a local folk festival, a campaign to attract healthcare workers, or the publication of booklets given to parents on the arrival of a child.

Any activity that is grounded in the unique identity of a place, is place branding, Speirs says.

It’s not to be confused with destination marketing, he stresses.

“Destination marketing has a specific audience in mind, but place branding is a far wider concept,” Speirs says.

“In destination marketing the audience is primarily a external one. Place branding is more about the people of a place really understanding what it means to be from a place, and what binds them as residents of a place.

“It can be applied across a whole suite of areas that go well and truly beyond just attracting visitors.”

Powerful tool for councils

Place branding can be a powerful tool for councils, and unpacking how to develop and implement place branding projects will be an underlying theme of the conference.

Stu Speirs: connecting people to place

“Place branding adds to that the idea that the people of a place really understand what it means to be from a place, and what binds them together as residents of a place,” he says.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

“There are huge place branding projects across the world but it doesn’t need to be a massive undertaking,” he says.

“The results that small individual executions – like what we will see at the conference from places like Cobargo and Kandos – have been just extraordinary.”

Place Branding Australia 2024 runs from June 12-13. Tickets are available here.

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