Spilling the beans on a place branding success story

Tasmania is home to one of the world’s most effective place branding projects, and the man behind it is ready to spill the beans on its success.

Brand Tasmania CEO Todd Babiak

Todd Babiak is the inaugural CEO of Australia’s first statutory place branding authority and a keynote speaker at the Place Branding Australia conference next month.

“I will be telling a story about our story – the way we uncovered the “unifying cultural expression” we have been using as the basis of our strategy in Tasmania and how we have been working with our partners to bring it to life,” the Brand Tasmania CEO tells Government News.

Just don’t call it a campaign

Asked about what others can learn from the campaign, Babiak says “you can’t see this as a campaign”.

What Brand Tasmania is about is much deeper, more complicated and more enduring, he says.

“It is the foundation of everything you do and say, the core of every decision you make. It’s not about Brand Tasmania. It’s about the Tasmanian brand, which we co-own with thousands of partners in and out of government.

“If we see place-branding that way, as an inside-out activity, an impossible mission to unite effort, we can get beyond the idea that an agency can ‘make’ the brand for us.”

Babiak says he’s excited to see his home state hosting the conference, which will take place against the backdrop of the Dark Mofo arts festival.

“Winter is a magical time to be in Tasmania, really a perfect time to explore how to uncover and share what makes a place and a culture different and special,” he says.


Not suprisingly, curator Stu Speirs describes Place Branding Australia as a perspective-changing conference.

Stu Speirs

“It will will offer government leaders, policy makers, economic development professionals, town planners and creatives – especially at a local government level – a toolbox of ideas and inspiration for turning ‘place’ into an asset, especially as communities emerge from covid,” he says.

 Speirs says Babiak will be joined at the conference by other top thinkers in the place identity space.

“Getting that sort of intellect together in the same space will send our attendees away inspired and ready to change their places for the better,” he says.

Sneak peek of some highlights

Resilience expert Toby Kent is one of the world’s go-to people when it comes building resilience in a community.

For the past five years as City of Melbourne’s chief resilience officer, Mr Kent has helped Melbourne prepare for shocks and stresses like covid-19 and bushfires.

From community-led housing and place development, through to how places can attract the jobs of the future, in this session, Mr Kent will examine the cross over between the world of resilience and place brand.

Head of Australia’s Nation Brand Fiona de Jong will reflect on  the last three and a half years since the release of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

In the session Ms De Jong will lead delegates through journey so far, the lessons learnt and the road ahead.

From across the ditch, New Zealand Story director Rebecca Smith promises to look at the good, the bad and the ugly of place branding, and how a tourism sound bite evolved into an enduring national brand.

Artistic director of the Unconformity Travis Tiddy will talk about how a community event evolved into a multi-modal platform that helped reinvent Tasmania’s West Coast.

Jessica Christiansen Franks, urban designer and community profiling expert, looks at how covid demonstrated how a neigbourhood can change overnight, and why “slow data” no longer cuts it when communities need to deal with immediate challenges.

Property marketing guru and author  of The Place Economy series Andrew Hoyne will unpack the meaning of his unique trio of concepts “place visioning”, “instaplace” and “traderhood”.

You’ll also hear about one small town’s sheep-art led recovery and how a regional centre’s ambitious “happy little locals” campaign set out to lure covid-weary Melbournians.

The conference will also feature fish tanks and panel discussions, as well as an address by re-elected Premier Peter Gutwein.

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Place Branding Australia is back

Stu Speirs is the curator and MC of Place Branding Australia, Australia’s premier gathering of Place Identity professionals. If your community is embarking upon a period of self-analysis and branding, hearing from some of Australia’s best thinkers in the Place Identity space could provide you with the clarity you need to map out your community’s next steps.

Place Branding Australian 2021 will take place at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Hobart from June 16-18.

For information and registration visit the Place Branding Australia website.

Place Branding Australia is a Government News event.

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