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Bill Baker
Portland, Oregon
Author, city branding and tourism consultant and speaker
Interests: Portland Trailblazers, Seattle Mariners, Aussie cricket team, and walking Rocky the Wonder Dog
Recent Activity
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We receive many emails from city leaders, practitioners and students around the world. From time to time we share some of the responses with readers. I had an email from Sharon at a chamber of commerce on the East Coast of the USA, “Some members of our Board are confused... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2017 at Small City Branding Around the World
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The name of a place is the most powerful part of its identity. It has often been said that being introduced to a brand is like meeting a person. Their name is important - it’s how we remember them, make associations, and refer to them. It’s as if there is... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2017 at Small City Branding Around the World
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I recently had a conversation with the president of Midwest DMO at a conference who was being pressured by some of his lodging partners because the community’s brand strategy, which had been revealed three months earlier, had not generated an increase in business for them. While we at TDM didn’t... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2017 at Small City Branding Around the World
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Welcome signs can play an important role in the marketing and branding of cities. They not only provide a sense of arrival, but also communicate a welcome to travelers and can signal that the place is ready for them. They can also serve to convey the distinctive identity of the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2017 at Small City Branding Around the World
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I was honored to recently speak at the Inaugural International Place Branding Association Conference in London. This was a very stimulating and informative event with academics and professionals involved in the principles and practices of brand development and brand management for places (cities, region s, nations and destinations). With such... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2017 at Small City Branding Around the World
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I used to think that positioning was the trickiest part of place and destination branding. However, I now believe that getting the RFP or Expression of Interest, scope of work and agency selection processes right in the first place are probably the most problematic and can most easily send a... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2017 at Small City Branding Around the World
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Project for Public Spaces has highlighted an excellent article in the Planning Commissioners Journal (PCJ) by Ed McMahon, who is a Senior Resident Fellow at the Urban Land Institute. Ed is a nationally renowned authority and speaker on sustainable development, land conservation, and urban design. In his PCJ article, McMahon... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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Adopting a place brand offers tremendous rewards for cities and regions if done correctly. However, sometimes these well-meaning efforts introduce levels of complexity and challenges which could easily have been avoided if leaders understood the nuances of place brand planning and were better prepared to tackle these obstacles from the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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Early this year, we conducted a Tourism Assessment Review for a small city that discovered that its tourism performance was declining. This was an attractive small city with an historic downtown that had successfully established a state-wide reputation as a destination for antique shoppers. However, our research soon revealed that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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The Philippines is clearly demonstrating how nation branding should not be approached. Last week the Department of Tourism (DOT) Media Director said that the organization is creating a new slogan that would “reflect President Rodrigo Duterte's thrust to institute reforms in the country”. Of course this is 100% political interference... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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The Olympic Games provide an interesting backdrop to observe an alternate competition between nations that isn’t happening on the playing field but in the court of public opinion. It seems that each Olympiad brings ever more intensive efforts to leverage the spotlight to gain recognition and enhance the image of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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My destination consulting colleagues and I often remark that residents of a city often don’t see what’s right in front of us when it comes to their city’s hidden tourism strengths. Well, on this occasion I must confess my guilt. A few years ago, I worked on a small project... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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Duke University, Durham While many places can’t get past believing that their logo or tagline is their brand, Durham has done a stellar job in shaping and protecting its identity and image. The Durham CVB has paid close attention to the ways in which their city brand can be diluted... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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I was pleasantly surprised and very honored to recently see my book listed as a "must read". Just in time for Northern Hemisphere summer break, Place Brand Observer (PBO) has released a list of the Top 5 Place Branding books to read in 2016. Their list contains books recommended by... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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When we conduct a brand audit or tourism assessment 9 times out of 10 participants identify a destination weakness as being the lack of knowledge of the local area by front-line hospitality staff. Despite how many DMOs recognize this as a problem, so very few ever do anything about it.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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This is the fourth and final part of this series reviewing how your city can avoid being a bland imitation of other places. Firstly, there is no one action or magic bullet that can save places from the Anytown, USA sameness trap. However, one thing is certain, and that is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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This is Part 3 of a series on how to avoid being Anytown, USA. There are many reasons why even well-meaning cities can end up being bland and uninteresting. The most common causes are that they lack bold vision, belief in themselves and don’t have a focus on their distinctive... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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This is the second part of the blog considering the need for small cities to clearly differentiate themselves. We are living in the most competitive time in history, where cities of all sizes find themselves competing more fiercely for relevance, respect and reputation. In the USA alone there are approximately... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
I recently posted about how the importance of place brands has not diminished because of the myriad new digital communications platforms. However, the ways that places go about branding has changed. This is perfectly demonstrated by our client Travel Lane County (Oregon) in marketing their destination region, Eugene, Cascades &... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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Last summer I was relaxing in a small park in downtown Anchorage AK and watching a musical performance by local kids. I was immediately taken by the peaceful atmosphere, hometown feel and the distinctive precinct that surrounded the park with rows of independent businesses and traditional streetscapes. Crowds of visitors... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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I recently interviewed Todd Mayfield, Group Creative Director at Axia Creative, and author of Branded Wayfinding for Destinations. I asked Todd about his book and the role wayfinding can play in destination branding. Question: What’s the difference between generic street signs and a branded wayfinding system? Answer: The basic function... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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I have been reading a case study about Malaysia as a destination with global appeal in the book, "Stop Advertising Start Branding: How to Build the Brand That Will Build Your Business" by Marcus Osborne. I was quickly struck by how a comprehensive brand audit can not only fine-tune a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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This is the second part of the blog considering whether place brands are relevant or obsolete. The fundamental principles of branding have not changed. Brands are still about making and delivering on a valued, differentiated promise. Smart destinations and businesses have always known that brands reside in their consumer’s minds,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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A few months ago I delivered a keynote presentation and the CEO of a city tourism organization approached me and said, “I enjoyed your presentation, but isn’t branding cities obsolete?” He went on to say that he believed that brands are irrelevant and dead because of the digital power that... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World
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This is the second part of the blog on the future role of DMOs as brand managers. Over the past decade the TDM team has been advocating that DMOs must assume a much greater brand management role. As the DestinationNEXT Report now confirms, DMO will need to be even more... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at Small City Branding Around the World