How my arrival experience at Copenhagen Airport informed my understanding of city and brand. Do first impressions count?

Place branding can be subjective. Comprising of so many stakeholders and components it’s unlike a product or service. There’s often no executive usp or sales proposition – that’s what makes it so difficult. However on a recent visit (my first visit) to Copenhagen I experienced brand and place working together in its true sense.

Stepping off the plane in most airports you’re often greeted by ‘bland’, nothingness. And quite often you could be in any city, anywhere. And for the first few steps I felt the same, but then I started to look around. Actually maybe I’m wrong here. From the clever use of materials including the obligatory ply and the fresh open spaces and white light I was sensing something unique.

Before you knew it the simple way-finding had brought me to a train platform which would take me to the heart of Copenhagen (about 20mins).

Again, sitting down on this comfortable, clean and spacious train made me stop and look. Okay, it’s a train but if u start to look closely at the details, you realised the design and user experience is key to how the Danish thought and how they regard their citizens. Music player socket overhead was a simple and nice touch but the tray table really got me excited. No seriously! Push down from the seat in front and out slid a walnut verneered thick ply table with brushed steel, recessed cup holder. Right then I knew and understood how this place lived by its values. No sexy strapline, logo or campaign. This is place branding at its best and at its purest.