City Branding

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From city marketing to city branding: Towards a theoretical framework for developing city brands Received (in revised form): 30th June, 2004

Michalis Kavaratzis
studied business administration in Greece and marketing in Scotland. Since April 2003 he has been a researcher in the Urban and Regional Studies Institute (URSI) of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, focusing on the topics of place and city marketing. His particular interest is in place and city branding and he recently commenced work on a project which will investigate branding processes in major European cities.

Michalis Kavaratzis Urban and Regional Studies Institute, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Tel: 31 50 363 6602; Fax: 31 50 363 3901; e-mail: m.kavaratzis@frw.rug.nl

Abstract Cities all over Europe include more and more marketing techniques and methods in their administration practice and governing philosophy. The transfer of marketing knowledge, however, to the operational environment of cities proves a cause of difficulties and misalignments, mostly due to the peculiar nature of places in general and cities in particular as marketable assets. In this paper, city branding is suggested as the appropriate way to describe and implement city marketing. City marketing application is largely dependent on the construction, communication and management of the city’s image, as it is accepted that encounters with the city take place through perceptions and images. Therefore the object of city marketing is the city’s image, which in turn is the starting point for developing the city’s brand. The most appropriate concept to understand marketing applicability within cities is the recently developed concept of corporate branding, which with the necessary modifications is applied to cities. The core of the paper is a theoretical framework to understand the city’s brand and its management, which was developed through a review of the literature on both city marketing and the corporate brand. City branding provides, on the one hand, the basis for developing policy to pursue economic development and, at the same time, it serves as a conduit for city residents to identify with their city. In this sense the relevance of and need for a framework describing and clarifying the processes involved in city branding are equally strong for facing increasing competition for resources, investment and tourism on the one hand and for addressing urgent social issues like social exclusion and cultural diversity on the other. The framework focuses on the use of city branding and its potential effects on city residents and the way residents associate with and experience their city, and it is based on a combination of city marketing measures and the components of the city’s brand management.

Keywords: City branding, city marketing, corporate branding, city image, city branding variables

58

Place Branding

Vol. 1, 1, 58–73

Henry Stewart Publications 1744–070X (2004)

From city marketing to city branding

INTRODUCTION While the marketing of urban places has been practised, at least, since the 19th century (Ward, 1998), cities increasingly tended to rely on marketing methods in the last three decades, when ‘competition for inward investment, tourism revenues and residents at various spatial scales intensified’ (Kotler et al., 1999). It is clear, though, that the early examples mentioned in the literature are only promotional activities undertaken by cities or regions in various places and times. According to Ashworth and Voogd (1994: 39) ‘there is nothing new about places being promoted by those likely to profit from their development. What is new, however, is the conscious application of marketing approaches by public planning agencies not just as an additional instrument for the solution of intractable planning problems but, increasingly, as a philosophy of place management.’ The context in which marketing became...
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