With globalization at an all-time and ever-increasing high, the movement of people, businesses, capital, and ideas is more fluid than ever. People are always on the go, but how and why do they choose to go to one place over another? While there’s no simple answer to this question, it’s safe to say that people’s expectations of what a place will be like when they get there plays a major role in their decision-making process. For developing locations in need of attracting people, the competition is stiffer than ever. That’s where the importance of place branding comes in.

In short, place branding or destination branding is how a location communicates its image to its target market. From entire continents to the smallest city blocks, place branding influences how the rest of the world perceives a place. Having a great brand is important whether you’re trying to attract visitors and tourists or encourage people to become permanent residents. What makes this place unique? What kind of people live there? What can you do there? Why should you visit? Why should you stay? A well-thought-out brand addresses all of these questions and captures a place’s spirit and personality.


The I ♥ NY campaign is a great example of old-school place branding. That brand has held from the 1970s until today and into the foreseeable future. The state even makes money from the logo, as Empire State Development, New York state’s chief economic development agency, owns and licenses the trademark for merchandise, to the tune of some $30 million a year.


The “Virginia is for Lovers” advertising motto was created 50 years ago by the Richmond advertising firm now known as the Martin Agency. It debuted in 1969 issue of “Modern Bride” and was inducted into Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009. No one knows exactly why it has been so durable – perhaps because it is mysterious and has meant many things to different people.


It was decided that the acronym RVA was a simple, catchy way to encapsulate the city as a whole. It was already being used by Richmonders, so Richmonders helped create it. They “took the concept of RVA and decided that something simple like a sticker might be an effective way for Richmonders to brand the city themselves.” Today, this acronym has its roots in the community. It is highly recognizable and represents the changes that Richmond has undergone in the last few decades.

When it comes to branding residential areas, the target market becomes smaller and more specific. For example, a new neighborhood in the suburbs full of single-family homes appeals to a different crowd than the newly-renovated, one-bedroom loft apartments in a hip area of a college town. Your brand should be something distinct and recognizable that appeals to the demographic you are trying to attract; a place they’ll want to come home to.


One of the first steps in developing a great location brand is creating a logo. The logo is one of the most important pieces as it will become how people identify and easily recognize the brand, such as the I ♥ NY, Virginia is for Lovers, and RVA logos. The logo will be used on almost every piece of branding material throughout the brand’s life.





After logo design is complete, destination brands need a professional, well-designed website. Most potential residents will find the location online first, so the brand’s digital presence needs to be on point.  The website should be informative, easy to navigate, and showcase the best elements of the location.

Scott’s Edge is a luxury apartment complex in the fastest growing neighborhood in Richmond, VA, Scott’s Addition. We designed their website to match the modern and simplistic feel of their brand. The website is easy to navigate and showcases Scott’s Edge’s property and location perks.


Marshall Park Townhomes are located in Richmond, VA, within walking distance to Virginia Commonwealth University. Since Marshall Park markets to mainly students, the reasonable prices are showcased, as well as location perks and floorpans.


Entry Signage

Another important part of place branding is entry way signage. As potential residents pass by or come to visit the area, an entry sign is often the first impression made. It should fit well with the place’s brand and reflect the “mood” of the brand, whether this is modern, rustic, elegant, etc.


Welcome Package

Once a potential resident finally comes to tour an area, it is important to provide a welcome package.  This package might contain information on property amenities, pricing, floor plans, contact information, neighborhood perks, etc.  Many times, this piece of branding is overlooked but, even in a digital world, it adds immense value to the buyer or renter’s experience if they leave with a beautifully designed, information packet in hand.

Henley is a residential area in Glen Allen, VA. Their welcome package includes floorpans, land plats, ____________________.


Residents shouldn’t just be proud of their homes, but of their community in its entirety. What makes them proud to be a part of that neighborhood, or excited to invite friends over to their new apartment? What’s different or special about your product offering that’s going to speak to the type of people you want to reach? Whether it’s a new neighborhood under construction or an existing location, a community’s brand should reflect who they are and what they want to become.

For 18 years, River City Consulting has been helping businesses make money.As a professional advertising and branding agency, we help companies determine realistic advertising budgets that produce results. Call us at 804-447-5757 for an appointment to talk about marketing your destination.

Your success is our business.