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Middlesex University expert opens summit on how soft power will shape global economy

27/02/2024
Academic who runs trailblazing course at MDX launches two-day conference with workshop on fast-growing field of ‘place branding’

A Middlesex University academic who teaches one of the world’s first postgraduate degree courses in ‘place branding’ will open this year’s Brand Finance Global Soft Power Summit 2024 in London tomorrow.

Dr Giannina Warren, Senior Lecturer in Place Branding in the University’s Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, will lead a workshop for 150 delegates on the unique challenges facing place branding professionals and how to overcome them.

Place branding is a fast-growing discipline that gives a brand identity to a place such as a city, region or country, and uses marketing techniques to promote a location in the same way that they are applied to a product, service or business.

The Soft Power Summit attracts some 600 thought leaders and high-profile speakers in soft power, international diplomacy and place branding. This year’s keynote speaker is former Prime Minister The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH supported by Andrew Neil, journalist and former editor of The Sunday Times. Previous keynote speakers include former United States politician Hillary Clinton.

Soft power involves using persuasion and attraction versus hard power such as coercion and military might to achieve international objectives. The conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre on 28th and 29th February will look at the role of soft power such as ‘place branding’ in helping locations such as cities and nations to attract investment, trade, talent and tourism.

“My workshop will explain how the meteoric rise of place branding as a profession necessitates the need to understand the processes and the value that this profession can bring to governments and businesses,” said Dr Warren. “I will also provide information on the MA at MDX which provides practitioners the opportunity to combine theory with practice and benefit from industry partnerships that involve guest lectures and opportunities to work towards a real-world client problem or brief.”

“The need for trained marketers who understand place branding concepts, strategy and implementation is growing exponentially and the MA at MDX will meet some of that need.”  Dr Giannina Warren, Middlesex University


Dr Warren launched the MDX Master’s Degree in Place Branding last year and believes this is one of the first postgraduate degrees globally that incorporates marketing, design, urban planning, sustainability and problem-solving for cities, regions and countries.

“Cities, regions and nations worldwide are increasingly using brand strategies to promote themselves to compete for businesses, potential residents, a talented workforce, students, tourists and investors,” said Dr Warren. “The need for trained marketers who understand place branding concepts, strategy and implementation is growing exponentially and the MA at MDX will meet some of that need.”

Dr Warren added that a particular focus of the future, which is included in the course, will be sustainability. “Cities account for about 70 per cent of global emissions so they need to start positioning themselves as sustainable and developing expertise around this is important for place branding professionals,” she said.

The course is offered online, in partnership with industry partner and branding consultancy Bloom Consulting, which allows students from all over the world to participate.

At the conference, MA Place Branding student and MDX Mauritius graduate Muhammad Abbas Peera will receive the Brand Finance ‘Best Place Brand Strategy’ Award for a campaign developed as part of his Masters course. “Abbas has been very successful on the course. He created a fantastic brand strategy for promoting tourism in a sustainable way on Rodrigues, an underdeveloped island near Mauritius, as part of his MA and this won him the award,” said Dr Warren.

Meanwhile, two other students on the postgraduate course have secured internships with brand consultancy Brand Finance.

Find out more about studying Place Branding at MDX

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