After writing one of my previous post about city branding and the great example of I Amsterdam campaign, I wanted to show other ways to think about brands. Holland gives us a lesson, again.

This example is very interesting to me, as it is about destination branding and event industry.

Who is Mr. Holland?

Mr. Holland is representative for the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions. His main job is to promote Holland as an ideal destination or meetings, conferences, and events of all kind.

Mr. Holland is also, so called, brand character, the person that represent Holland identity. He looks as you would expect for young Holland guy to look, with all the manners that every host in Holland (needs to) have:

Visual identity: blonde hair, tall, with blue eyes, light skin, always dressed up in orange suite, with lovely details like tie with tulip on it (also, one of the Holland’s symbols)
Personality: cheerful, chatty, friendly, trustworthy, always ready to help


Mr Holland

Mr. Holland is here to help with choosing right destination venue in Holland, he links event organizers with congress centers and other event venues, agencies (PCO), hotels and companies, he gives all the information needed about the destinations in Holland, he manages his own blog, he has profiles on all social networks, he animates visitors at the fairs around the globe to come and visit Holland…

Check for yourself: or

Besides all mentioned above, he is a great promoter of events in his country. Three years ago his promo activities on social networks draw my attention. He promoted Queen’s day, Holland’s national holiday. This event was special as that year, queen Beatrix announced that she would abdicate in favor of her eldest son. For the next year King’s Day was held for the first time (2014. King’s Day was on April 26th, but from 2015. this event is celebrated on the King’s birthday – April 27th).


Mr Holland – Royal Madness

This event is promoted in many ways, with a campaign called Crown yourself, for the support of the new king and campaign Dress me up for the Queen’s Day, when followers on FB page were creating Mr. Holland’s look for this special occasion. Mr. Holland published and shared a lot of interesting articles about the royal family and event itself. Queen’s Day and now King’s Day attract approximately 800.000 visitors.

dress up

Dress me up for the Queen’s Day

When on the fair, Mr. Holland draw even more attention with campaigns, such as:

Campaign: Add some orange

add some orange

Add some orange

Campaign: Dreaming of Holland


Dreaming of Holland

Campaign: Meet the Dutch masters

Meet the Dutch masters

Meet the Dutch masters

Or the newest one, Give it the Orange Twist

orange twist

Give it the Orange Twist

All those campaigns have one very important thing in common – interaction.
Because tourism is all about people. Holland realized it.

Mr Holland real

I can not help wondering what would be like if Serbia has decided to present in this way. If Serbia is human, what would that human look like? Ok, like a woman (no argue about that, due to the feminine noun). But what kind of women – young, modern, with a cheerful spirit, or perhaps an elderly lady tired of life?

UPDATE 28/07/2016

Just for fun: Guess which countries the following people represent

What countries would look like if they were people?

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How to point out the omissions without pointing a finger at one who made it? Although I had doubts, I decided to publish this text anyway. Without finger-pointing.
Below is an example of practice from which much can be learned and learned immediately. It is better to learn from the mistakes of others, than from our own.

At the end of May, I attended a lecture, organized as part of an economic fair that lasted several days. I found out about it through social networks and by accident, because an event hasn’t been promoted.

I applied online and obtained information about the location and the schedule of maintenance. However, upon arrival, I realize that lecture is not in the hall that is listed in the program. I couldn’t find any information about the change that is made and there was no one whom I could ask.

Tip 1: If the event is complex and consists of several segments or programs that take place in different rooms or in different places, it is desirable to have an information desk where you can get all the information. If you believe that it is not necessary or do not want it, you can easily create a poster with a map of the event or the maintenance schedules and places. The poster should be presented in a visible place or at the event entrance. Visitors need information.

I checked again on the official website. I thought, maybe, I didn’t memorize it well. Information on the website remained the same, wrong one.

Tip 2: Update the information posted on the website and social networks and in all the places where the news about the event was published. You cannot control the publication in the media, but the information on the official website must be accurate. The official website is the first place where visitors check information about the event they want to visit.

I finally find out where the lecture. I came in front of the hall ten minutes before the lecture began. Lecturer came as well. He looked at his watch and decided to enter. I walked behind him. Ah, how embarrassing! We interrupt the lecture in progress, as we entered the stage where the talk took place. This hall has two doors, one leading to the stage and another at the back of the room where the seats are. But we didn’t know that.

Tip 3: As an event organizer, you need to know the area in which the event is happening. If something can go wrong at an event it will go – it is an unwritten rule. Therefore, please reduce that possibility to a minimum. Ensure that all the participants in your event feel comfortable – both lecturers and visitors. In this case, it was enough to put the information for visitors in front to the door or even to lock that door to completely prevent such unpleasant situation.

We were not the only ones that entered to that door. Lecturer on the stage was constantly interrupted. And he couldn’t concentrate. As if that was not enough, the girl from the organization, event moderator, stopped him in the middle of the sentence just to say that he needs to speed up his talk because of the other lectures. The program is running late.

Tip 4: Trainers are (usually) experts who invested their time to come to your event and made an effort to prepare a lecture. It is necessary to give them all instructions, including information about the time at their disposal – both for the lecture itself and for the interaction with the audience. Rushing lecturer in the middle of his expose is rude and unprofessional. Even if something is not going according to plan, lecturer needs to be informed about it before the presentation. The lecturer who has an experience will adapt his discourse to these new circumstances.

The presentation that I came to hear is ten minutes late. I am looking around the room, it is almost empty. There are only fifteen of us. I wonder how that’s possible. The lecturer is one of the most respected professionals in our region. This is the first time I am listening to him live, but I watched him online several times. People are paying to hear his lectures. Today’s lecture is free. The only reason that this presentation today isn’t visited well is because potential visitors were not informed. Otherwise, I am sure, this hall would be full or even overbooked.

Tip 5: Promote your event. Take advantage of all communication channels. If you do not have the funds for a promotional campaign, use your contacts. Also, be aware that, although they are swamped with information, journalists still publish news. The real news. Exclusive news. Interesting news. Ask yourself: What is it that is specific when it comes to your event? Who is it for? What is the program content? Who are the lectures? Answers to these questions will make your event stand out from the masses and give reporters a story. Speakers at your event are also your promoters. They spread a positive word about the event. If they don’t, ask them to do so. They won’t reject your request. They will promote your event because they will promote themselves, too.

The reason for a small number of participants can be a result of a wrong targeting, too. When registration for the event is online, the event organizer can have a clear picture of number or visitors and promote the event in a different way or to a wider audience.
At the end of the lecture, event moderator interrupt once again saying that time is running out. The lecturer is now speeding up his talk, getting faster over the slides and extract only the most important thing he wanted to say. He ends his lecture.

Tip 6: When organizing lectures, workshops, presentations and panel discussions, keep in mind that you should always leave time for questions and clarifications. Interaction with visitors sometimes is even more important than the official part.

We are leaving the hall hurriedly as if we were expelled. Event moderator, who will moderate following lectures tells us to stay to attend the next lecture on … I did not hear what is it about, as I already went out.

Tip 7: Collaborate with colleagues. Sounds logical, but still… First event moderator at the end of the lecture could tell us that there are some other presentations today. He could arouse interest and some of us would stay in the room. But he didn’t. He finished his job, not looking the bigger picture of the entire event, that he was just a small part of it. He forgot the most important thing in event coordination, behavior towards people.

This text contains just a few tips for event organizers. I wanted to show that each of this thing, even if we consider it small and inessential, significantly affect the valuation and general impression of the event.
The presentation that I came to hear fully met my expectation. Nothing could spoil that.

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Recently I attended a lecture about challenges in city branding, organized by EU Info Centre in Belgrade. It was presentation overview of master’s thesis that Bojana Bursac Dzalto defended ten years ago, but now it was updated with new examples.

Cities as brands have existed since ancient times, although they weren’t called brands then. Rome, a city that all roads lead to, was one of them. Equally well-known were the Jerusalem and Mecca, the most important travel destination, centers of the world. And brand cities, too.

I love New York

I love New York

The modern concept of branding cities binds to New York, and the famous logo and slogan “I love NY” from 1977. Although it was believed that it would last a few months, this logo is still ongoing.

As examples from Europe, Bojana mentioned those with whose prominent symbols or concepts we are the most familiar with Mozart and Salzburg, the Eiffel Tower and Paris, Barcelona and Gaudi…

Architecture is often associated with the identity of the city. It is a reflection of the city, it attracts tourists. A great example is a project Belgrade Waterfront, as it will change Belgrade’s silhouette. Now the highest point of the city is plateau near the Temple of Saint Sava at 135m above sea level, but after the Tower of Belgrade is build the highest point will be at 220meters. Project Belgrade Waterfront is characterized as the top-down branding – when decisions on changing the identity of the city are made by the governmental authorities and participation of locals in this process is minimal.

The opposite and more effective way is the bottom-up approach – when the initiative starts from the individuals, from the community and being spread to the city, country and even beyond. A great example is an initiative of a German artist who made the stumbling blocks (or Stolperstein) – monuments built in memory of the victims of Nazism. Those commemorative brass plaques have been set on the pavement in front of the last address of the victim all over the Germany. On each stone, there is a name, year of birth and destiny, and the date of deportation and death. This initiative from Germany has spread to other countries: Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Russia. Today anyone can sponsor a stone, its manufacture, and its installation.

I knew from the start that it would be impossible not to mention the importance of events in city branding. Events are the ones that give a positive image of the city in the world, positioning the city in the minds of people. The Olympic Games, Eurovision, European Capital of Culture, just to name a few, are great examples.

When it comes to city branding in Europe, Amsterdam is always the main topic. Slogan I Amsterdam and brand strategy that is associated with it is largely known in the marketing world, yet accessible and understandable to the residents of Amsterdam and its visitors. Behind the slogan, there is extensive research on the perception of the city as well as the goals of this campaign, needed to fulfill.

The recognizable slogan is set as the installation of letters, in three places in the city – at the airport and the national museum as a permanent exhibition, while the third is traveling the city, often placed at cultural events.

Studies have shown that these installations are pictured more than 8.000 times in a single day!

This case confirmed that branding should not be left to chance, but this process needs to be guided.

Photo: Freepik

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Me: “Good afternoon. Do you still have the tickets…? ”

The voice on the other side: “No.”

Me, confused: “How do you know that there wasn’t any when you haven’t even heard what I was interested in?”

I hear the answer from another side: “You are calling regarding the Nemanja Radulovic’s concert. Just because of this concert phone rings today. ”

After the information that I saw on social media, I strongly wished to attend the concert of our famous violinist Nemanja Radulovic. Conversation with “psychic” ticket sales manager woke me up.

How could I even expect to find the tickets for THAT concert just two days before the event?

Then I saw the information that the tickets for the concert on 8 April 2016 were sold in May 2015, after which organizers planned another concert for 7 April 2016, for which tickets are sold in October 2015.

This information was sufficient indication that the planning of events in our country is getting its full meaning, for both organizers and visitors. After an announced concert due to the great interest of visitors to attend the same, the organizers reacted quickly and schedule another event. And visitors? They began to plan their time. It seems that, for a long time, our behavior excels instinct for survival and day to day life. The willingness of people to buy tickets for the concert several months in advance is returning faith to our country, as it is connected with the stable society and brighter future.

In Western countries, events and holidays are planned, booked and paid for several months, even a year in advance. In our country, that wasn’t a case.

When it comes to the organization of events, if the visitors decide to purchase tickets long before the date of an event, there are always two reasons for that:

– There is a significant discount for those who buy ticket early

– The event has a high-quality program or exclusivity

The second option is more effective. The quality of the program, its variety and / or exclusivity will affect the interest of visitors, and therefore have the impact on event success.

Nemanja Radulovic’s next concert with the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra will be held on September 3rd, 2016. Tickets will be on sale from [on] June 1st, 2016. Do not expect to find any in September.

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