Auckland has been awarded the prestigious ‘Place Brand of the Year’ title at the 6th annual global City Nation Place Awards. 

Auckland’s entry was a finalist against six other place brands developed by cities in the Republic of Ireland, England, Australia and Lithuania, and the nation of Saudi Arabia, with the win announced to a large international audience during the two-day virtual City Nation Place World Congress last week. 
The story of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s place brand journey was entered by the region’s economic development agency Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

It showcased the creation of the Tāmaki Makaurau He Aratohu Auckland Playbook, the work it has underpinned, and how having a strong place brand is critical to the region’s recovery.
An eight-strong judging panel of place brand experts from around the world selected Auckland as the winner: “For a clear, holistic approach that anchors the city’s future vision in its authentic past, engages all stakeholders, and provides a  roadmap for recovery in tourism and economic development.” 

The development of a “positioning and narrative” for Auckland was a priority in Destination AKL 2025 – a strategy released in mid-2018 with the support and guidance of an Industry Leaders Group and ratified by the Mayor. 
ATEED Chief Executive Nick Hill, who was an online keynote speaker for the Asia Pacific Forum component of the City Nation Place Conference, says: “It has been recognised for years that Auckland has lacked an authentic place brand and story, and it’s very clear that place brands are critical in attracting visitors, investment, events and talent.  
“While New Zealand’s brand resonates globally, Auckland – the country’s largest city and economic hub – is less well known.  
“Brands are about deep emotional connections, not logos or taglines. Auckland hasn’t had that internationally because we’ve lacked a clear story that explained what is distinctive about our region. That was the key starting point – instigating the right research,” says Nick Hill. 
Desk and resident research, workshops and stakeholder engagement was undertaken to create Auckland’s Place DNA™. Then international research identified what the world thought of Auckland and how ‘Auckland’ talked to the world via multiple digital channels.  
Nick Hill says: “The research showed Auckland had a high rational, but lower emotional appeal – impacting our region’s reputation. We needed to enhance Auckland’s emotional appeal by telling our stories better, particularly about our region’s unique Māori culture and our urban-ness, which many international people were unaware of.” 

Once the key elements of the place brand were identified, ATEED developed the Tāmaki Makaurau He Aratohu Auckland Playbook, which outlines the new place brand’s four pillars: a place of mana; urban oasis; collective worlds; and playground for ideas. 

The Playbook is one of the assets available on the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland Brand Home which is now live. 

This website provides a number of tools that businesses and organisations promoting Auckland can access so Auckland is communicating with the world in a unified voice, including a content library, and the research undertaken. It also houses open source Auckland video and photographic assets to help them market themselves internationally. 

Nick Hill says: “Our task now is to help international-facing Auckland organisations and businesses to access the playbook and use its free tools and assets to better tell their story and Auckland’s story. 

“We know a powerful Auckland brand is essential to our region’s economic recovery, and this global award reflects the strength of the brand’s foundations.”