A City Branding Approach to the Queen of Cities, Istanbul. (Blink#1)

Should we start to think about branding of Istanbul with a perspective of tourism, we have to know that this is a City Branding attempt of which strategy should convey a profound strategic approach taking the core essence of Istanbul into the centre of it. When doing it, not only do we have to focus on branding itself, but also we have to consider that this is a destination strategy of which objective is very much related with marketing. I do believe and I hope it also will be seen in my below words that Istanbul is a unique city with its’ many incomparable aspects which can decidedly carry Istanbul to a steady position in city branding in a global scale.

What needed is to determine an accountable and sustainable city branding strategy that is conducted by an eligible corporate entity. This corporate entity must be in the centre of the branding strategy of Istanbul and the natural decision maker of it for at least five years from the beginning. That said, there is always a B-plan approach waiting for Istanbul, according to the Turkey’s geopolitical realities. No matter what the past data says, for a solid and sound city branding for Istanbul, sustainability on the strategy is a must.

Taking account of sustainability, then, the initial strategic partners and cooperation groups have to be determined. The clinic meetings and focus groups are of vital importance with various stakeholders such as sports, health, environment, fashion, folklore, art, gastronomy, history, archaeology, architecture, literature, music, theatre, cinema, religion, economy, etc. as well as making profound researches on the issued publication, reports, presentations and web.

The following action is better suited to establish a strong city branding for Istanbul, is to conduct a benchmark study and to map which city had prepared what brand strategy along with the axis of Problem-Solution. The best-case study reading is also of vital importance. In this regard, Istanbul’s superiorities in comparison with the benchmarks have to be determined. I believe that there are such key criteria in order to determine a solid benchmark or some others, such as history with imperial heritage, duality in terms of religion, cosmopolitanism and being a hub. To choose the best benchmark is very much related with the consequences of the overall branding strategy. And it is not very easy to find a good benchmark for Istanbul. On the other hand, this is good news for differentiation, but either way it has to be managed in a mindful atmosphere.

It’s also essential to make a city brands panel discussion with the specialists. Accordingly, target markets, target audience, stakeholders and mega-trends have to be analysed and particularly target audience has to be segmented. As I strongly believe that people do not choose countries but cities, we also have to understand how the decision makers’ minds are affected in terms of choosing a city. Additionally, we have to define the marketing strategy for each strategic market and each segment in every market that have high potential to bring out growth. In this regard, the potential products for each segment are of vital importance. Nevertheless, global and regional trends, new approaches in tourism industry that have influence on the target audience and the future scenarios are of vital importance.

When the best information executives completed this study, we can say that the project is ready for a major workshop in order to uncover the market attractiveness and vision of “Brand Istanbul”. In market attractiveness, strategic advantages and betterment areas have to be clarified. In this regard, the marketable aspects such as touristic centre of attractions, products and themes can be exposed.

Then the next step is to determine the strategic imperatives or in other words success areas and strategic goals that carry Istanbul to “Brand Istanbul”. One of the strategic imperatives is “Brand Identity” by the book and in this regard Strategic Advantages of Istanbul, Brand Essence of Istanbul, Brand Concept of Istanbul, Brand Story of Istanbul and Brand Identity of Istanbul have to be determined.  It is not that hard to say that the other strategic imperatives are related with “Stakeholders of Istanbul”, “Marketing for Strategic Markets” and “Brand Communication for Strategic Markets”. The last step is – as always – 360 degrees brand strategy plan and determine the accountability of Istanbul’s brand strategy. To track the action plan with sustainable key performance indicators and a carefully planned tracking methodology are of vital importance.

Istanbul has a great advantage for city branding. It’s definitely a global city brand and most probably the most known brand association of Turkey but still there are more miles to go. I am sure numerous workshops have been done for Istanbul in regard of being a City Brand. And I am positive enough there is a profound archive to be used for Istanbul’s Brand Strategy. However, I do believe we have to start from the rough and scratch to be fair enough for setting an arty City Branding Strategy for Istanbul, should we have a real ambition and belief for that. I do. Since not only do I love Istanbul, but also I do believe its’ heritage and potential.

That is why, in the following articles after this chapter that I will publish every week, I would like to express my thoughts in order to accomplish to make Istanbul a great city again as we know it from the turned-pale pages of the history. I rely on Istanbul’s heritage and potential to possess a strong city brand value as long as a strategy work has done by the book.

Istanbul is waiting for its’ majestic future as a global city brand and a State-of-Art City Brand Strategy supported by a Growth-Driven Marketing Strategy, can accomplish it.

Published by HAKAN SENBİR

Brand Strategist.

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