An exciting Place Management challenge: the “Beyond”- Dimension

by Christer Asplund on September 23, 2011

You can hardly read Financial Times without noticing that businesses tend to communicate all sorts of “Beyond”-dimensions as part of their corporate image. Today (September 21), we read, for instance, that Huawei brings to you the following message: “We see beyond technology!” The Huawei intention is to see customers and their needs far beyond the technology buzzwords and internal technical jargon.

It is like Starbucks also seeing beyond the coffee machine going in the direction of the Starbucks as a “Starplace”. Here a Starbucks place is far more than just a cup of coffee. The long-term “Beyond”-effort is to build a place brand where Starbucks is a third place, a “starplace”, for the customers. The first two places represent the home and the job.

In the book Place Management we have also given another “Beyond”-example from the corporat world: The travel bureau “Travel Beyond”, which has a true beyond ambition in all its destination offerings. It is a tempting travel already to read the catalogue. It is like enjoying the á la carte list in a “Beyond”-restaurant. (Where it is possible to talk and listen without loud-speakers just behind).

We have come to the conclusion that the “Beyond”-dimension will make its entrance in the world of businesses as well as places the years to come. This implies that also place managers will find yet another tool in their tool box.

We are aware that differentiation has now developed into a driving force in place branding, even though most of the activities still resemble a culture of sameness in real life. But in theory the stakeholders argue that differentiation is a must.

I thought of the “Beyond”-dimension when I recently visited two Northern European places. The first one was the city of Rovaniemi and the other one Jukkasjärvi, both “Beyond” the Arctic Circle. A good “Beyond” start, one could argue.  Although Christmas time comes but once a year, in Rovaniemi you can experience beyond Christmas throughout the year. Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland, is the hometown of Santa Claus who can be met on any day of the year. A “Beyond”-travel to the Santa Claus Mekka encapsulates a storytelling adventure which is – at least today – stimulated year around. The same is the fact with the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi which brings the “Beyond”-dimension away from cold water to a remarkable storytelling inspiration – now also in the summer. In the warm period the production of ice-based devices continues and form the basis for various export driven projects from above the Arctic Circle.

In fact many players, also place related, are discovering the impact of the “Beyond”-dimension. One can argue that it is nothing new in this. Places have always tried to deliver unique offerings and to differentiate. However, out point here is that the “Beyond”-dimension approach tries to integrate several competence areas: 1) sensory marketing; 2) innovation; 3) exploitation of new technologies. These competence areas are systematically combined and addressed towards certain target markets. Some places are doing this in a conscious way while others are doing it by intuition or even by “mistake”. If you have visited Raffles Hotel in Singapore you know what we describe.

Professional place managers can now benchmark with the numerous “Beyond”-driven places and attractions. But try to be careful with the timing and communication so you are not backfired as the case was with British Petroleum introducing the brand: “Beyond Petroleum”.

Lesson to be learned: the “Beyond”-trend is here. Can we be brave enough to discover the “Beyond”-potential in our place?        

About Christer Asplund :

Specialist in the field of building more attractive investment infrastructures at local and regional places, innovative clusterbuilding and place marketing strategies.

Extensive capacity in linking practical experiences with more theoretical structures. Christer has since 1975 developed place branding plans for major and smaller cities throughout Europe, including for Barcelona and Catalunya (May 2006) and for the city of Shanghai (July 2006) and latest for some cities in Turkey under the coordination of Brandassist in Istanbul. These place branding plans have focused three target groups: investors, visitors and potential residents.

He has written several books and articles on regional development, industrial policy, innovations, science parks, information technology, place branding, place management, place development and place attraction. The latest book, Place Management, published in 2011, brings place leadership issues to life, with examples from many parts of the world. The first book, Place Hunting: the Art of Attracting New Businesses, was published at the beginning of the 1990s and gave rise to a succession of local and regional projects in Sweden and Norway. The next book, Place Hunting International, focused on the success factors of making a place attractive to investment. The third book, Marketing Places Europe, written in collaboration with Professor Philip Kotler, focused on market related aspects of place development. The original English edition has been translated into Russian, Chinese and Turkish. Has participated in teaching missions throughout Europe during 35 years. Has developed numerous teaching materials in fields like local and regional attraction building, place branding and lately also place management via the program Leadership for Growth.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: