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Place branding: 3 urban campaigns that stand the test of time

By Andrzej Leraczyk |

Admind Branding & Communications


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April 29, 2022 | 6 min read

The true strength of good branding is its resistance to the passing of time. When it comes to place branding, we should think about not just what’s happening today, but the future too. Andrzej Leraczyk, design lead at Admind Branding & Communications, takes us on a tour of three standout urban branding campaigns to find out how some stand test of time.

Brands shouldn't be totally detached from current realities. Conscious branding projects should take into consideration specific circumstances and where they lie within a moment in history.

Admind on the effectiveness of brand placement in specific locations.

Admind on the effectiveness of brand placement in specific locations.

There are some moments when we need real-time branding – to respond directly and immediately to issues at hand. It primarily concerns important, key or critical moments related to a brand.

Pristina: sometimes all it takes is one word

On 17 February 2007, shortly after the wars in the Balkans, in the middle of an ethnic melting pot in Europe, Kosovo announced its independence from Serbia. Kosovans understood that for this campaign to succeed, they needed not just diplomacy but a public response, especially from the United States and western Europe.

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There was a need for a fast, simple and strong symbol to show Western societies that something new had emerged; something worthy of their attention. That’s how the new nine-ton monument made of yellow three-meter-high letters was made. The memorial said just one simple word: “NEWBORN.”


Made by Fisnik Ismaili, former partisan of the Kosovo Liberation Army and with support from the Ogilvy creative agency, the Newborn Monument had a clear message: something new had launched. It was a simple but effective message, with pictures from Kosovo’s independence shared publicly for some time. These yellow letters are still positioned near the Palace of Youth and Sport, contributing to Kosovo’s national branding. They have been modified multiple times to keep people talking about the country's issues; it also serves as a reminder to citizens to remember crucial historical moments.

Amsterdam: you are where you live

Since 1928, placing large letters in urban areas has been considered a good idea. It started when an entrepreneurial real estate developer decided to promote his newly-built housing estate on the hills near Los Angeles. There are millions of examples of landmarks made by large letters in the middle of the city. There are also several good (and creative) evolutions of the Hollywood archetype.

(illustration 2: iamsterdam-abri-02 + Iamsterdam_05)

In 2004, Dutchmen from KesselsKramer created a branding campaign for the city of Amsterdam. They approached their assignment differently and focused on the citizens of this city. They decided to show the city, with all its tourism, historical and cultural attractiveness, through the lens of the diversity of people living there. The slogan for their campaign was “I amsterdam”. It showed inclusivity as a value important to this city in a straightforward way. And it was that celebration of diversity that made this project stand out from the crowd, especially in the face of growing anti-immigrant and euro-skeptical political party PVV. Large Insta-friendly letters with the campaign logo were placed in a few locations in the city.

(illustration 3: I Amsterdam)

Ukraine is fighting NOW!

Suddenly, the branding campaign made for Ukraine in 2018 by the Banda agency is now terrifyingly up-to-date. When they were working on this project, the agency’s main assignment was to show Ukraine as a dynamically growing nation, not just geographically but also culturally a part of Europe. Focusing on modernity, on what’s now, was a bold idea. It was also crucial to break the stereotype that tied Ukraine to its soviet-related past.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Ukraine NOW! gained the attention of Europe and the world. Since the war started, Banda has dedicated its time to support Ukraine from a creative standpoint. At the beginning of April, the agency launched a huge campaign called "Bravery to be Ukraine" that was viewed by people from all over the world. The idea was to focus on the attitude of Ukrainian society in the face of aggression. They updated the message of their campaign from 2018 and added a pictogram showing a machine gun.

(illustration 4: banda_teraz)

Each of these places tells a different story and how they each live history differently. But they all use place branding differently to show what matters.

In this way, branding becomes a valid part of history as well as belonging to specific places. It becomes something more than just a decoration or a meaningless label.

Modern Marketing Agency

Content by The Drum Network member:

Admind Branding & Communications is an international branding powerhouse with top-tier creative talent drawn from around the world. We work with global companies, leaders in their industries, who are invested in the power of their brands and in the influence they have to change our societies for the better. Our teams in Kraków, Amsterdam, Odessa, Bangkok, and Zürich comprise more than 140 creative experts from over 15 countries.

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