Brand Development: Putting A City on the Map 

Brand Development: Putting A City on the Map 

What is it we think of when the word ‘brand’ is mentioned? 


According to Forbes, The first definition of “brand” is the name given to a product or service from a specific source. Used in this sense, “brand” is similar to the current meaning of the word “trademark”. More than a century ago, cattle ranchers used branding irons to indicate which ani- mals were theirs. As the cattle moved across the plains on their way to Chicago slaughter houses, it was easy to determine which ranches they were from because each head of cattle was brand- ed. 

Yet from cattle herding to the modern-day meaning of the word, the meaning of Brand Develop- ment has wavered and meandered through multiple meanings and definitions. For a long stretch in the latter half of the twentieth century, brands were intrinsically tied to multinational companies and came to be defined as ‘the image’ a company would like for its product. 

However, since the turn of the new century and millennium, brands and brand development have been associated with a wide range of industries, and even, governmental institutions. Think of celebrities, for one. Suddenly, there are no people, countries, groups anymore. Instead, every- where we look, everything’s a brand. Donald Trump is a brand, Charlie Sheen is a brand, so are Kate and William, the President’s a brand, Greenpeace and just about any professional sports team or association you care to name. America’s a brand, so are the Tea Party, Survivor, Wik- ileaks, the Beckhams and Lady Gaga. You are a brand. 

And as this article would like to point out: so are abstract concept such as cities. 


A concrete case of this would be NAVA+’s Interface’s ongoing involvement with ‘Majalengka Exot- ic Sundaland’. As part of its Regency & City Infrastructure and IKKON (Innovation and Creativity through Archipelago-wide Collaboration) initiative, Bekraf (a non-ministerial government body that aims to boost Indonesia’s standing in the world of creative economy ) collaborated with Interface to guide a region/city in Indonesia to be appointed as a centre for the Creative Economy in 2019. 

The goal was to create a three-day workshop was conducted between 20-22 July 2019 that re- sulted in a comprehensive rebranding of the city. Out of the four finalists (Malang, Kutai Kertane- gara, Palembang and Majalengka), the city and regency of Majalengka in the province of West Java was chosen to undergo a comprehensive rebranding and brand development of the city. A name was also chosen: Majalengka Exotic Sundaland. 

Majalengka Exotic Sundaland represents the spirit of creativity to manage natural and cultural wealth for the prosperity of Majalengka in order to elevate the noble Sundanese civilisation as well as maximising the full potential of the Majalengka region to become a centre for economic growth that is conducive to the development of innovation. 

A plethora of inspirations was drawn to highlight Majalengka’s potential, including its friendly people, the city’s creative society, Majalengka’s exotic culture, the region’s abundance of natural attractions, its status as a performing arts hub, Majalengka’s creative villages and recreational destinations, as well as the region’s excellent potential for investment. All of these potentials are aimed to increase the region’s creative economy, the preservation of nature and culture, investment and entrepreneurship opportunities as well as maximising its touristic potentials. 

The workshop and campaign was an outstanding success with a sizeable amount of Majalengka’s communities embracing the initiative with exuberant enthusiasm. While the creative communities exploited the #majalengkaexoticsundaland hashtag in a variety of creative manners and platforms, including the creation of festivals, campaigns and a growing online presence, Karna Sobahi, the head of the Majalengka regency, has officially given his support to the initiative. 

Ultimately, the collaboration highlighted the strengthening of network and relationship between Bekraf, Interface (and by extension NAVA+) and the communities that make this country and our 

industry what it is. Through city branding, we strengthened our position as a prime branding consultant Jakarta.