8 Takeaways from City Nation Place Americas 2024

May 22, 2024
Rachel Deloffre and Patience Fairbrother at City Nation Place Americas conversing with other destination marketers on community branding best practices.

Our team returned from City Nation Place Americas last week feeling inspired and energized. We were among 250+ storytellers, marketers and creative professionals representing communities and destinations doing great work across North America. In addition to releasing our 2024 edition of Talent Wars, we came back with many great takeaways and insights that reinforced our work and philosophy when it comes to destination and community branding, storytelling and marketing. Below are our top eight takeaways:     

1. Your brand is not your logo.

You must answer who you are and your brand ethos first. Yes, your logo and imagery play a role, but it’s more important to get your brand narrative right.   

2. Slow down and do the research.

Know that it takes time to listen to your community, talk with residents, partners and stakeholders, as well as understand outside perceptions. At DCI, we start every branding project with a robust research and discovery phase, where we seek to understand both internal and external perceptions.    

3. Your story must be based on authenticity.

Your actions create your narrative. Work with your community to let them tell your story. Testimonials and success stories are powerful. One example shared at City Nation Place was Cleveland’s ambassador program, which helps talent connect within the community. Find your community’s authentic creators and storytellers and work to partner with them.  

4. People support what they co-create.

Make sure to involve your stakeholders, community and partners. They will become your community’s best ambassadors and cheerleaders. Calgary Economic Development shared the story behind their new Blue Sky City brand. The EDO, DMO and city of Calgary were all part of the branding process from day one. When the brand was launched, it had support from all key parties.    

5. Collaboration and working together is worth the effort.

Partnerships are key, and building trust among your community partners takes time. Lean into what you’re good at and allow partners to bring their strengths to the table too. We heard many great examples of collaboration happening across the country. One example shared was how Visit Fort Worth partners with the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to ensure their marketing and messaging is inclusive and elevates Hispanic stories, businesses and culture within the community.    

6. Don’t underestimate the power of your local community.

Often, residents don’t explore what’s in their own backyard. As one panelist put it, “turn your residents into tourists and your neighborhoods into destinations.” Based on research on what influences both corporate relocation decisions and talent relocation decisions, we know that word of mouth is powerful. With the right strategy, your residents can become your best ambassadors.  

7. DMOs and EDOs should collaborate more.

There is so much opportunity for destination marketing organizations and economic development organizations to collaborate. Align on key messaging, share creative assets, and understand each other’s goals and strategies. Read more on this topic in our blog, 5 Ways DMOs and EDOs Should Streamline Efforts.   

8. Arm your community with your brand.

The more you can make your brand available to your local community, the more it will grow organically. Rather than take a protectionist approach, make your brand assets accessible to local businesses and partners, and let them run with it. Is there a cool t-shirt shop downtown with local swag? Let them use your brand on their merchandise and watch it grow.   

Interested in learning more about best practices in community and destination brands? Reach out to Rachel Deloffre, Vice President, Creative Services at [email protected].   

Written by

Rachel Deloffre

Vice President, Creative Services