Assignment 2: Simon Anholt Keynote on product/city/nation/region-branding + Diagrams + Purpose


Our good buddy Simon Anholt breaks down the problems he sees with the words “communications” and “brand” and discusses what they really mean. It’s long, and he comes off as a bit of a blowhard, so here are the quick hits:

Three Definitions of ‘Communications’
1: the providing of information – this only works if you know something and if people actually want you to tell them.

2: advertising – this only works when you actually have a product and you also have a base of consumers who might be willing to buy your product.

3: propaganda – this only works if you have complete authority and control over all means of communications. Basically impossible today, so don’t bother. (I think the part he doesn’t say, which is maybe important, is that if you try to do either of the first two without the necessary conditions you end up looking like you’re doing propaganda when you thought you were providing valuable information or advertising a product, so be careful.)


Three Definitions of ‘Brand’
1: Brand Identity – this is the stuff of most traditional advertising; it means logos, slogans, advertisements, color schemes, etc.

2: Brand Image – this is how people view you. It includes all of their prejudices, preconceptions, ideas and attitudes about your company/country/product/city.

3: Brand Purpose – who you actually are internally. What you do, the actions your company takes, your company values, etc.

The takeaway from the second part is that if you have a bad brand image, no amount of working on your brand identity will change it if you do it wrong. Moreover: if you don’t have a clear brand purpose, you likely have a crappy brand image because people can tell.





pearl_food_access pearl_food_access




what – a semi-mobile/remountable food distribution structure/space that provides a third method of food access that falls between the poles of food freely given at a soup kitchen and food purchased at a supermarket or produce market.

who – ideally such a structure/space would be able to attract both people who have limited food access (not just the homeless) as well as those who would normally shop at a grocery store or market.

why – the pearl is an established and wealthy neighborhood with a strong culinary and arts culture.  leveraging the unspent capital and attention that exists in the pearl to address the intertwined issues of homelessness/food access on a more intimate level has the possibility to inject capital/resources/attention into a situation that is lacking all three.


2 responses to “Assignment 2: Simon Anholt Keynote on product/city/nation/region-branding + Diagrams + Purpose

  1. That was entertaining.
    Thank you for sharing it and making it easy. Maybe we should all start summarize ideas from your posted articles and videos, making it easier for everyone else.

  2. The attraction of both demographics is critical for you.
    can the identity of the Pearl as a center for culinary and the arts be enhanced by the social value of a soup kitchen? would it not make for a more inclusive and robust community- at the least invite a creativity and pluralism of creativity to the urban spatial environment? is ‘gritty’ a necessary aspect of cities of art identity- see Berlin, old New York, etc?
    can you diagram these idea? even starting with test locations and mapping the ideas you have…is there really art in the Pearl? what is art/ creativity? how is it nurtured other than through institutions?

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