• A lot of cities and regions have adopted a Place-branding approach.
  • The new logo is only the dark side of the iceberg. Place-branding recovers numerous aspects.

The foundations of the brand

What is a place-brand?

Place-branding is an approach towards the promotion of the attractions of particular area, 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 centre of the process. Positioning is progressively achieved in light of the benefits sought by the target audience and their perception of the region. The appropriateness of the positioning has to be confirmed with its residents.

Geographically-based branding does not just entail launching a new graphic world, and still less a simple logo.

It is no longer confined to running high-profile advertising campaigns in the media. The branding policy needs to reflect a mindset found in the behaviour of initiating operators, 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, the level of internationalisation seen among public and private players: these are all other factors in the establishing a brand policy.

Why have a Walloon brand at all?

  • To stand out in an increasingly globalised world in a modern, properly thought-through 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;
  • Increase public name-recognition for Wallonia as a region that’s reinventing itself and that’s innovative and completely open for business;
  • Encourage networking at both regional and international levels, securely anchored around the brand;
  • Publicise all the region’s attractions around a readily recognised focal point. The brand is a vehicle for mobilisation and a unifying factor, contributing towards giving the region a strong profile, whether economically, or in tourism and culture.

Wallonia’s positioning

It results of a methodical study conducted by the consulting firm McKinsey, based upon:

  • written sources (general reports on the attractiveness of Wallonia; sector-specific and theme-based studies),
  • a hundred interviews with decision-makers, selected from among different types of target,
  • benchmarking against 15 other foreign 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 4 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 recognised 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; Wallonian residents).