Dariel Curren’s Interview with The Place Brand Observer

July 22, 2021

Dariel Curren, Executive Vice President at DCI, recently spoke with The Place Brand Observer about how DMOs and EDOs can work together to attract talent to cities, states and countries, trends that will likely impact the work of destination leaders in the years ahead, overtourism, and much more.

Continue reading for an excerpt of Dariel’s interview, and find the full interview at The Place Brand Observer

Dariel, do you remember the first time you heard about ‘branding’ in the context of cities or regions? What got you interested?

As someone who grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York but didn’t take my first trip to New York City until I was in college, I was beguiled by the ‘I Love New York’ campaign plastered seemingly everywhere to help change perceptions about the financially beleaguered city in the late 1970s. The sheer simplicity of Milton Glaser’s iconic heart design has endured all these years and I’ve found that fascinating.

Reducing the many facets of a city or region to one overarching theme to create a community brand for effective positioning can be challenging. How do you (advise clients to) approach this?

Every place has its own DNA, its own soul. But getting to the heart of that soul is not always easy. We believe that all authentic place brands must be rooted in research, and we recommend that cities and regions plumb perceptions – both internal and external – about their place.

For the ‘inside’ perspective, we conduct focus groups and engage with stakeholders and residents across the widest spectrum possible. For the unfiltered outsider perspective for tourism brands, we survey past and potential visitors, as well as meeting planners, tour operators, airline executives and travel advisors.

For our economic development clients, we survey corporate executives in targeted industries and site selection consultants, as well as prospective talent from prime feeder markets. Layering the inside-outside perspectives yields a solid foundation to begin to shape a genuine place brand that will resonate both with residents and target audiences.

With more than three decades of experience in the marketing of places, how have your views on economic development and destination marketing (and the links between the two) changed over the years?

There is no doubt that economic development and destination marketing have merged closer and closer together during the past 30 years. As deep specialists in both areas, DCI has rare perspectives and insights on this.

Our most recent research shows that 52% of corporate executives form perceptions of a community through business or leisure travel, while 59% of working talent point to first-hand experience (likely visiting a destination) as to how they form impressions of a community. We always say today’s traveller is tomorrow’s talent. It makes sense. Who wouldn’t want to spend time in a destination before making a major decision about moving there or relocating or expanding a company?


Head over to The Place Brand Observer to read Dariel’s advice for DMOs and EDOs on attracting talent to cities, states and countries, and more.


This excerpt originally appeared on The Place Brand Observer and has been reposted with permission.