Professor Greg Clark is among the global experts on cities. His expertise and experience covers many aspects of urbanisation including leadership, investment, positioning and branding. Senior Advisor at HSBC, Global Fellow at the Brookings Institute and Chairman of City Summits, his everyday work is about advising leaders in more than 100 cities world-wide on strategic initiatives. Greg also advises global firms on the investment and enterprise opportunities of an urbanising world. Greg observes that there are now more businesses than nations that have active City Strategies.
He has advised many globally recognised cities such as Barcelona, New York, London, Vienna, Toronto, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Johannesburg, Philadelphia, Tel Aviv, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile, Sydney, Brisbane, and Auckland .He currently chairs the International Advisory Board for branding Oslo. In recent years he has advised Stockholm, Copenhagen, Malmö, Aarhus and Olso.
According to him, city branding is an important tool then in addressing three key imperatives for cities:
- It creates a sense of belonging for citizens and can foster a sense of welcome for visitors.
- It provides a means to communicate competitiveness and distinctiveness to external audiences
- It encourages collective action within the city, and builds trust in other spheres. These shape how the city develops and the resources and tools it acquires.
(Place Brand Observer, 2017)
Branding requires alliances to have an impact. There are many conditions that need to be in place for successful branding, such as trust and a variety of actors across sectors, industries and hierarchies. The diversity of this group of people that has to include NGOs and private as well as public leaders is key and in correlation with the potential result of any significant city branding exercise. Alliances are key to branding success and creating lasting change. Creating such an environment in turn accommodates experimentation in a city, which is key for innovation and enables to deliver on the brand promises.
The role of the city
The future belongs to cities, but that future needs designing and shaping. If over 75% of the CO2 emissions come from cities, they have the responsibility to fight the climate crisis. Sustainable development requires concrete and measurable work, but it begins with realigning the way we think and run cities. Processes and policies need integrating and shifting of paradigms. Proactive change management and pro-investment consensus needs to be created.
Nordic Place Branding Conference is about making a change in places. Real changes have real impact. Who takes responsibility for making better places? How are cities helping to fight climate change?
Greg is more interested in how to rebrand city life and the role of cities in sustainable development and national success than in the role of branding in the competitiveness of individual cities. He wants us to focus on using story telling to unite and inspire cities rather than to win contests.
Greg will talk about rebranding cities as the main vehicle for urban innovation and fighting climate change.
Learn more about the seven habits of highly successful cities here.
Interview on The Place Brand Observer
Greg has authored 10 books and more than 100 reports. See Amazon for his “Global Cities: A Short History” 2016
Follow him on Twitter @GregClarkCities