A Unified Approach to Place Branding: Who’s Doing it Well?

March 15, 2024
A place branding team working on developing an umbrella brand.

Should your state, region or city brand be the same across economic development, talent attraction and tourism? Not exactly, but in a perfect world, they should be unified. Place branding should speak to your target audience. Business executives, talent and visitors all have different needs and require tailored messaging. However, that doesn’t mean visual elements, campaign concepts or similar themes cannot be woven throughout the brands representing your community.  

We know based on DCI’s Talent Wars research that today’s visitor is tomorrow’s talent. That means having a unified regional brand and collaborating between economic development and tourism organizations is a more effective way to market your destination. Unified or “umbrella” place branding presents your region in a more cohesive way, fosters community pride and increases the chance of your brand growing more organically.  

Read on to see how six communities large and small are using unified place branding to increase business investment, talent and visitors.  

Six Unified Place Brands:

1. Michigan: An Iconic Brand that Inspires 

In 2006, the iconic Pure Michigan campaign for tourism was born. It has since been everywhere from license plates and billboards to national TV. Capitalizing on the well-known Pure Michigan campaign is the state’s business attraction campaign, Pure Opportunity. While each campaign has different audiences, goals and messaging, they have a similar look and feel and pair nicely together. Michigan launched reimagined versions of these brands in March 2023, offering visitors a “Fresh Take” on life through Pure Michigan, and marrying that with an increased focus on quality of life benefits as part of the Pure Opportunity campaign.  

2. Columbus, Ohio: Cohesive and Widely Adopted 

 When it comes to a successful, widely adopted regional brand, Columbus is a prime example. Economic development and tourism organizations One Columbus and Experience Columbus partnered to drive the region’s brand, which has been adopted everywhere from the airport to the city to industry organizations. On brandcolumbus.com, One Columbus and Experience Columbus encourage any industry, organization or individual promoting Colombus to use the Columbus brand and provide helpful messaging and promotional materials. The Columbus logo is easily adaptable – with the letters US always emphasized in a different color, with a star above it.  


One Columbus red and black logo


Image Source: Columbus Logo Guidelines 

3. British Columbia: Capitalizing on Natural Assets 

 British Columbia’s tourism and business attraction brands complement each other – leaning into the province’s abundant natural beauty and resources. Destination British Columbia has used the tagline “Super, Natural British Columbia” for 35-plus years. “Our brand puts BC’s true nature at its core, and truly injects deeper meaning and emotional resonance to the tagline,” Destination BC states on its website.  

To attract international business investment, Trade and Invest BC partnered with DCI to create “British Columbia, Naturally” in 2022, which capitalizes on the province’s natural resources, innovation and ESG values. While the two brands have a different look and feel, they both lean into the same theme. Read more about the “British Columbia, Naturally” brand in this case study. 

4. Orlando: Unbelievably Real  

In 2022, Visit Orlando and the Orlando Economic Partnership partnered to launch Orlando’s “Unbelievably Real” campaign to promote the region for tourism, business and meetings.  

“Research shows that people consider living in places that they experience on vacation or at a conference. It’s not hard to imagine how a CEO who visits Orlando for a convention or family vacation may then want to move her company here. Our audiences intersect and in order to have a more impact on a consistent basis, we’ve created a compelling message on the reasons to visit, move or start a business in the Orlando region,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in this press release. 

The whimsical “Unbelievably Real” logo is used alongside captivating, authentic images and clever copy across economic development and tourism channels.  


Midnight blue Orlando "Unbelievably Real" logo


5. The Carolina Core: A New Name for a Powerhouse Region 

In 2018, economic development partners from an emerging corridor in the heart of North Carolina needed a business attraction brand and a plan, and the Carolina Core was born. Anchored by Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem, the Carolina Core offered big opportunities for global companies with four prime megasites and skilled talent. Fast forward to 2022, and with DCI’s help, the Carolina Core launched “More In The Core,” aimed at attracting skilled talent. The economic development and talent brands complement each other visually and weave in similar language and themes throughout the messaging.  

Teal, orange, red and navy "More In the Core" logo

6. Blount County, Tennessee: Greater Smokies Region Umbrella Brand 

Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee, Blount County uses an “umbrella” brand to promote the region for economic development, tourism and talent attraction. In 2023 with DCI’s help, the Blount Partnership launched a new regional brand name to market the area – the Greater Smokies Region. This was paired with “The Greater Side of the Smokies” brand concept, which leveraged the existing “Peaceful Side of the Smokies” tourism tagline, one that has been known, loved and embraced within the community for many years. The new brand adapts for different target audiences with headlines like “The Business Side of the Smokies.”   

Greater Smokies graphic with picture of the Smoky Mountains at sunrise with the tagline "The Peaceful Side of the Smokies"

Greater Smokies Region website cover image, with logo and tagline.

Written by

Rachel Deloffre

Vice President, Creative Services