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Place Branding and Citizen Involvement: Participatory Approach to Building and Managing City Brands



This article examines the role of citizens in the process of building and managing city brands. A multidisciplinary approach is applied to explain the multifaceted nature of territorial brands and citizen involvement. To this end, theoretical concepts from marketing and corporate branding, public management, and human geography are applied. By conceptualising place branding as a public policy and a governance process, and drawing from the concept of participatory place branding, the author discusses a variety of methods and instruments used to involve citizens. Special attention is given to the importance of modern technologies for effective citizen involvement.
hp://–142, DOI: 10.1515/ipcj-2017-0008
Marta Hereźniak*
ABSTRACT: This article examines the role of citizens in the process of building
and managing city brands. A multidisciplinary approach is applied to explain
the multifaceted nature of territorial brands and citizen involvement. To this end,
theoretical concepts from marketing and corporate branding, public management,
and human geography are applied. By conceptualising place branding as a public
policy and a governance process, and drawing from the concept of participatory
place branding, the author discusses a variety of methods and instruments
used to involve citizens. Special attention is given to the importance of modern
technologies for effective citizen involvement.
KEYWORDS: City branding, city brand, participatory place branding, citizen
Recent theoretical developments and empirical observations
in branding and managing territorial entities have made it
possible to conclude that the importance of citizens in these
processes is growing. Place branding is increasingly viewed as
a public management activity and governance process, and, as
such, it requires support from the public. Moreover, technological
developments (web 2.0, user-generated content, mobile technologies)
and their democratic potential enabled a more open and bottom-up
* Department of International Marketing and Retailing, Faculty of
International Relations and Political Studies, University of Lodz, Poland;
Narutowicza 59a, 90-131 Lodz. E-mail:
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Marta Hereźniak
creation and management of place brands. Nonetheless, in reality
citizens are an undervalued and underrepresented group in place
branding strategies and practices, often viewed as a “necessary evil”
(Kavaratzis, 2012). Furthermore, the major focus in place branding
activities seems to be outward, with attempts to attract foreign
tourists and investors and to present a coherent place image in the
The objective of this paper is thus to examine the role of citizens
in creating and managing place brands with special reference
to cities. The paper discusses the concept of participatory place
branding, interdisciplinary nature of citizen involvement, it also
examines methods and instruments of citizen activation, and the
role of modern technologies in citizens empowerment.
Place brands – towards participatory approach
The notion of place brands and place branding has been present
in the academic literature for over two decades and more recently it
became one of the central issues on place management agenda. Still,
however, there seems to be no universally acknowledged denition of
the term as such which can be attributed to its multidimensionality
and interdisciplinary background. Among many attempts to dene
this concept, one that embraces the multifaceted nature of place
brands is provided by Zenker and Braun (2010, 5), who dene place
brand as “a network of associations in the consumers’ mind based
on the visual, verbal, and behavioural expression of a place, which
is embodied through the aims, communication, values, and the
general culture of the place’s stakeholders and the overall place
Over the years, the notion of place branding was subject
to substantial theoretical and empirical evolution. The initial
attempts to articulate its essence were predominantly related
to tourism industry and made place branding seem equivalent
to place promotion with the main focus on the development of visual
identity and on the advertising of a place in the media (Govers,
2013). Such an approach caused important misinterpretations
of the role that place branding had to perform within the place
management system. Consequently, there appeared a number of
problematic issues for the discipline, three of them being especially
relevant for this paper.
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Place Branding and Citizen Involvement… 131
Firstly, the outlined approach deprives the process of building
place brands its depth, presenting it as advertising of the idealised
and somewhat manipulated place image, often detached from the
reality of the place in question. Secondly, such an interpretation
of place branding presents it as an outward-oriented process,
thus making it irrelevant for citizens of the place. This, in turn,
results in their negative attitudes and their reluctance to see the
public resources being allocated to this activity (Hereźniak and
Florek, 2016). Thirdly, communication-oriented view of place
brands assumes that there is a single and static identity of the
place (Kalandides, 2011) that has to be coherently communicated
to various audiences to raise brand awareness and create positive
associations with a place. Yet, place brands differ signicantly from
commercial brands (Hereźniak 2011). Namely, they lack specied
ownership; the place product is utterly complex (Papadopulos, 2004;
Hanna and Rowley, 2008) and more experiential than commercial
products and services. Consequently, there usually exist multiple
place identities and images (Kavaratzis and Hatch, 2013), which
makes the process of place brand management far less controllable
than that of commercial brands.
The aforementioned issues present a range of challenges for
the theory and practice of place branding and management.
Hence, recent theoretical developments in place branding evolve
towards the concepts of stakeholder participation, co-creation
and co-production (Kavaratzis, 2012; Aitken, 2011), moving this
notion further away from a promotional perspective. This new
paradigm requires addressing the interdisciplinary character
of place branding by applying theoretical concepts from diverse
areas, specically from corporate branding, public management
and cultural geography (Kavaratzis and Hatch, 2013; Hereźniak
and Florek, 2016). It is beyond the scope of this paper to assess
and analyse all the theoretical inuences critical for the evolution
of place branding. Nonetheless, several concepts from the
abovementioned disciplines need to be quoted to understand
the nature of place brands and the role of citizen involvement in
the place branding process.
Within corporate branding and marketing from which place
branding originates, the concept of participatory marketing and
branding (Ind and Bjerke, 2007), brand communities (Schau et
al., 2009) and service-dominant logic (Warnaby, 2009) inuence
to a great extent how places are branded and managed. As Eshuis et
al. observes (2014, 156) in participatory branding “marketers neither
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Marta Hereźniak
own nor control the brand. This opens up the possibility for different
stakeholders to try to inuence the meaning of a brand, and thus
participate in the process of developing a meaningful brand. In
corporate branding consumers form brand communities through
which they inuence and co-create brands of their interest. O’Guinn
and Muniz (2001, 412) dene brand community as “a specialised,
non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set
of social relationships among admirers of a brand.” This concept
appears to be of value for understanding the dynamics of place
brands in the context of citizen involvement in this process.
Another important nding in the discipline of marketing is
the concept of service-dominant logic, proposed by Warnaby
(2009), who observes that with technological advancements and
widespread access to interactive media, corporate brands should
resemble brands from the service industry that puts the concept
of co-creation at the heart of branding. Thus, it is through
participation, experience and the exchange of information that
brand stakeholders dynamise brand identity and inuence the
brand strategy (Hereźniak, 2016). This observation applies to place
brands, which, according to the participatory approach, are seen
as networks of multiple stakeholders (e.g., Hankinson, 2004).
Therefore, the process of place branding happens through the series
of interactions among them. In participatory branding, internal
stakeholders (employees of a company or citizens of a place) are
given a primary role in brand co-creation.
With regards to the public management perspective, there is
a growing body of literature that calls for seeing place branding
as one of the public policies (Eshuis et al., 2014; Eshuis and
Edwards, 2013; Hereźniak and Anders-Morawska, 2015). Within this
realm, place branding is seen as a governance strategy in which
the public administration engages in relationships with residents
to foster citizenship, community participation, and social capital
(Anders-Morawska and Rudolf, 2015: 36). This is in agreement
with Smith’s and Huntsman’s (1997) value model of relationships
between citizens and public administration characterised by high
involvement, decentralised, democratic, participative and communal
form of wealth creation that involves co-partnership, co-investment,
common interest, cooperation and sharing among citizens (Smith
and Huntsman, 1997: 132). In analogy with participatory branding,
internal stakeholders (citizens) are the main focus for public
administration activity.
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Place Branding and Citizen Involvement… 133
Cultural geography is yet another discipline that offers
theoretical contributions to place branding. It can be of value in
understanding how communities are formed and what strengthens
place attachment (Florek and Insch, 2008) one of the critical
factors in creating strong, citizen-inclusive place brands. Brands
(of places and products alike) are widely considered in literature
as carriers of meaning (Wooliscroft, 2014), which makes them
larger and more sustainable than products with ever shortening
lifecycles. It is thus critical to study how place meaning is created
and exchanged within the community, which can be explained
through the notion of the sense of place. Campello observes that
a “community-centred approach for branding a place requires
an understanding of the constructs that people attach to their
place. These constructs are perceived and expressed through
a communal sense of place […] which should be seen as ‘a set
of shared experiences based on social relationships that exist in
a place which are inuenced by history, culture, spatial location,
landscape, economic factors and which are constructed through the
use of our senses […]’” (Campello in Kavaratzis et al., 2015: 52).
To fully understand the nature of citizen involvement in place
branding strategies and practices, the aforementioned and other
theoretical concepts need to be taken into consideration, which
should result in both conceptual and managerial developments that
will lead to a more satisfactory relationship between the city, its
residents and authorities.
Citizen involvement – place branding perspective
For the past years citizens started being considered as
a stakeholder group of growing importance. Braun et al. (2013)
distinguishes three types of roles that can be attributed to this
group of local stakeholders in the development and management
of a place brand: (i) residents as an integrated part of place
brand, (ii) residents as ambassadors for their place brand,
and (iii) residents as citizens. Citizenship-driven behaviours
include residents’ participation in activities and contribution
to the decision-making process. Thus, the challenge of place
brand managers is how and to what extent place citizens could
and should be engaged in place branding activities (Hereźniak
and Florek, 2016).
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Marta Hereźniak
Zenker and Efrgen (2014, 228–29) propose a model that
encourages a strategic approach to citizen involvement. The three-
stage process begins with the denition of the key components
of the place and the articulation of its shared vision. This is the
basis for creating a consensus among the key stakeholder groups
and a common denominator for place brand-related activities.
Throughout the second stage, the framework for citizen involvement
should be developed, including the scope and the depth of
participation, principal guidelines and key non-governmental
organisations that facilitate involvement and dynamise the process.
The third stage focuses predominantly on the implementation
of citizen-generated projects through providing professional
assistance in diverse areas (e.g., nance, marketing, logistics,
networking). Also, within this last stage the monitoring system for
the implemented projects should be developed. The aforementioned
model should be treated as a general outline of steps that need to be
undertaken to treat citizen involvement as an integral part of the
place branding process. Particular elements of such a framework
need to be further developed with special focus on the selection
criteria for the projects to be implemented and the appropriate
success measures.
Within this realm, it must be noted that not all citizens can
be involved in place branding to the same extent and in the same
manner. Bass et al. (1995) identifies several sub-segments of
participants based on their predicted level of engagement in diverse
public policies:
I. Participants listening only: they receive information from
governmental PR campaigns or a publicly available database;
II. Participants listening and giving information: to this end
they use public inquiries, media activities, “hotlines”;
III. Participants being consulted: usually through working
groups and meetings held to discuss policy;
IV. Participation in analysis and agenda-setting: through multi-
stakeholder groups, round tables and commissions;
V. Participants in reaching consensus on the main strategy
elements: through round tables, committees and conict mediation;
VI. Participants directly involved in final decision-making
on the policy, strategy or its components.
Although this categorisation does not directly refer to place
branding strategy, it is certainly adaptable and useful for those city
authorities who are ready to treat place branding as public policy
and not as a communication exercise.
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Place Branding and Citizen Involvement… 135
Another issue that needs to be addressed are the preconditions
for effective involvement of stakeholders (also citizens) in public
policies. Dalal-Clayton and Bass (2002, 193) articulate the
necessary requirements that need to be met to ensure effective
stakeholder involvement:
Shared principles for participation must be developed with
a special focus on diversity, representation, transparency, time
to consult and inclusiveness. In order to produce such principles,
early discussion on the previous and current strategies should take
Stakeholders must be properly identied: the problem with
different public policies is that too often a substantial group of
stakeholders is left out, because of the traditional criteria used
to assume the level of importance of a stakeholder group their
inuence and their interest in a specic project (Kavaratzis, 2012:
13). Such an approach puts numerous groups in an underprivileged
position and limits involvement and participation to the power
struggle of the strongest;
Presence of the catalysts for participation: an organisation that
stimulates a participatory approach is needed to initiate the process
and to coordinate and integrate different stakeholder groups, and
to “translate” more central decisions into the local context;
A set of specic activities and events must be outlined around
which participation will be focused;
Evolutionary approach must be taken: the snowball effect
should be generated, whereby the participation system is built
on the existing patterns and then gradually gains depth and
Appropriate participatory methods: a variety of ways to involve
the community in public policies should be developed including
dialogue, consultations, partnerships and networks, conflict
management etc.;
Slow start, early investments: nancial resources and long-
term approach are necessary to foster the appropriate involvement
system that will bring results in the long run;
Stimulation of learning environments, namely the “policies,
laws and institutions that encourage, support, manage and reward
participation in the planning/development process including
specially formulated groups where appropriate institutions do not
exist and which allow participants and professionals to test
approaches” (Dalal-Clayton and Bass, 2002: 193);
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Marta Hereźniak
Demonstrable results and benets: the impact of community
involvement needs to be seen by the community itself from early
stages on to reassure the involved that their efforts are well-made.
The set of prerequisites proposed by Dala-Clayton and Bass
treats community involvement as a systemic policy and an
indispensable component of public management, which is consistent
with a broader and more profound understanding of place branding.
Adopting this kind of logic requires mentioning the concept of place
making, rooted in geography, urban planning and urban design.
According to Al-Kodmany, “place making is the art of creating urban
landscape that fosters pride and ownership of the physical and social
environment” (2013, 153), it leverages the assets and potential of the
local community to create public spaces that promote citizens’ well-
being. Place making is therefore about the transformation of a place
in such a direction that it becomes more liveable and grounded in the
needs and aspirations of its citizens. One of the important features
of place branding both as a process and as a philosophy is its
transformational potential for places. The transformational potential
in this context means that diverse groups of stakeholders (citizens)
implement numerous initiatives, whose common denominator is place
brand identity. Stimulated and supported by the local government,
these initiatives lead in the long run to the transformation of the
place’s reality and social relationships within it. Thus, place branding
and place making are strongly interlinked with the former, adding
a more tangible, not only symbolic, dimension to the latter.
Citizen involvement and new technologies: a perfect match?
An issue that needs to be discussed when examining the
phenomenon of citizen involvement in place branding practices is
the role of technological development in this process. As noted by
Castels (2011), new media are the tools with a substantial democratic
potential due to their accessibility, global circulation of content and
interactivity. If used to the fullest, they can foster citizen participation
in different public policies in an unprecedented manner. This in turn
should make place branding much more inclusive and creative than
it is today (Paganoni, 2015: 7), thus making it more legitimate in
stakeholders’ eyes (residents included).
Over the past decade or so, technological developments such
as the rise of web 2.0, user-generated content (UGC) and mobile
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Place Branding and Citizen Involvement… 137
technologies allowed the voices of citizens to be heard louder than
ever. The democratic potential of the Internet gradually enabled
a more open and bottom-up creation and management of place
brands. The participatory and inclusive character of places is thus
fuelled with a widespread access to interactive and mobile tools
which raise the prole of citizens and make them true co-producers
of the city’s reality.
Digital technologies enabled citizens to participate in place
branding policies on multiple levels.
Brand analysis and conceptualisation: participation in surveys
and other forms of research concerning the brand concept, social
consultations, voting etc. through websites, discussion forums and
mobile applications (crowdsourcing). An interesting example here
is the B-Berlin project whose aim is to identify values, impressions
and associations that Berlin citizens have with/about the city.
The questions the community members were asked are the
following: (i) What are the three fundamental traits of Berlin?; (ii)
How do you recognise that you are in Berlin?; (iii) When do you
feel like a Berliner? The campaign is supported by social media
and online surveys which guarantee a widespread participation.
What is more, it also takes place in public spaces, where citizens
can write their ideas down on B-shaped boards placed around
the city.
Brand expression/experience: promoting a place brand online
through social media, the blogosphere, content sharing, creating
and moderating place brand communities and online place brand
experience, social activation of other community members etc. One
of the most praised projects of this kind is “Curators of Sweden,”
in which the ofcial Swedish Twitter account was handed over by
the government to be managed by citizens (curators) of Sweden.
Each week a Swedish citizen gets nominated to represent the
country on Twitter, sharing content about their life, work, passions.
The project run since 2011 – helped Sweden gain numbers of
followers on Twitter, generated substantial media coverage without
advertising spending, and inspired other places to follow the same
“Play Melbourne” is another citizen involving initiative that uses
modern technologies to raise the international prole of the city
brand. The campaign uses a “Play Melbourne Live” ball-shaped
device containing a phone that enables the usage of Periscope. This
ball is carried around the city of Melbourne by its citizens who
perform an interactive live tour around the city acting as guides.
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Marta Hereźniak
The audience can ask questions and choose directions the guide
will follow.
Brand delivery and evaluation: online participation in an
evaluation process, writing reviews online, submitting suggestions
and amendments to the existing strategy. An interesting example
is provided by the small Spanish city Jun where every citizen
has their own Twitter account through which they communicate
with the mayor of the city and other public ofcers. The themes of
communication vary from daily matters such as street lighting that
does not work properly or personal messages posted online to more
strategic issues regarding the city. This mode of operation (although
not without criticism) fosters community integration and the non-
standard place management techniques raised the international
prole of this small city of just 200 000 citizens which currently
has 400 000 followers on Twitter. It also suggests that activities
undertaken inwardly can have an outward effect with no real
spending on traditional promotion of a place.
With reference to the transformational potential of place
branding there are examples of projects based on citizen
involvement. One such project that needs to be mentioned is
“Neighborland” – an interactive platform developed in the United
States that facilitates communication between city organisations
and local people. So far it has fostered relations between around
200 such entities and over 750 000 citizens. The initiative is built
around a website where citizens can submit their own projects
that will help reshape the neighbourhoods: infrastructurally,
scientically, socially. The projects are subsequently evaluated by
the citizens who decide whether the project is worth pursuing.
Another example of brand delivery through citizen involvement
is that of participatory budgets. In the Polish city of Łódź, a special
website allows citizens to learn about bottom-up projects from
diverse neighbourhoods to be funded from the city budget and vote
for them.
The issue of citizen involvement in place branding is a fairly new
but a very dynamic development. A growing number of academic
papers and conference announcements are devoted to stakeholder
participation in building and managing brands of territorial
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Place Branding and Citizen Involvement… 139
entities. This tendency marks an important turn in the domain in
both theoretical and practical sense. There was, and still is, the
danger for place branding to be perceived as logo and marketing
communication. Such an approach does not make the process
legitimate in the eyes of its stakeholders, especially citizens, whose
primary aspiration is to stay in sustainable and liveable cities,
and who oppose spending substantial public resources on further
promotional campaigns. Marketing communication, regardless of its
quality, will not create sustainability and liveability of a place. It is
only through understanding place branding as a dynamic process
in which multiple stakeholders interact to create value that place
brands will be inextricably linked to place identity and a sense of
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... In a service setting, it has been shown that participation and co-creation increase the customers' economic, emotional and relational value [21]. In a place setting, the participants in this value and meaning co-creation process are the place's various stakeholder groups and prominent amongst them are the residents [22,23]. As noted above, this study focuses on co-creation of place brand meaning between the residents and municipality. ...
... As noted above, this study focuses on co-creation of place brand meaning between the residents and municipality. Such a brand co-creation approach within place branding brings along significant benefits [23] because of the co-creational nature of places [24], which becomes prominent when the personal construction of places is considered. People create places by interpreting them personally and this personal interpretation relates to all place-based elements including the physical and the symbolic aspects of place. ...
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Co-creation in place branding is used as an umbrella term for the complex brand meaning emerging through stakeholders’ participation in place activities, their contribution, collaborations and interchange of ideas and resources. Co-creation is often an aspiration for places to create and promote their brands collectively. In this context, storytelling—an old technique used in corporate marketing to instigate brand stakeholders’ participation—serves as a method which facilitates place brand co-creation through shared place stories. With the rise of online interactions, the chances of place stakeholders’ participation in brand meaning creation increase, and place stories are effective in allowing diverse place meanings to emerge from various stakeholders. However, when storytelling emerges as a marketing tactic, mostly from a top-down campaign, the stories are not always accepted by all place stakeholders, and they create contrasting brand meanings. The paper aims to investigate the benefits and risks of participation in “Many Voices One Town” (2018), a top-down campaign from Luton, UK, which used storytelling to instigate place brand co-creation. The campaign was created by the Luton Council with an external advertising agency. The campaign attempted to tackle the town’s segregation issues and foster community cohesion through the promotion of seven selected Lutonians’ stories about their diverse and multicultural experiences of living in Luton. The study employs a qualitative methodology to analyse the MVOT case study. Interviews with the council and participants in the campaign and netnographic data from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were used to gain an insight into residents’ participation in a top-down approach and examine the outcomes of co-creation. Residents’ participation in such a campaign shows numerous benefits but also risks for the place brand. The findings show that participation can sometimes intensify disputes about the town if people’s needs are not properly addressed. The study highlights the importance of open communication between all parties involved in the process, bringing into focus the need for careful coordination of top-down initiatives in line with stakeholders’ needs. It also demonstrates the ‘power of the people’ in the sense that stakeholder engagement with the shared stories led to negative outcomes that were not predicted by the Council.
... After 2010, practitioners and academics found that to build authentic place brands and ensure project effectiveness, stakeholders [9] and residents [10,11] had to be part of it. Processes became more inclusive and participatory [12]. ...
City branding is a governance strategy that, based on the identity of a city, aims to generate attractiveness for external public (visitors, investors, talents) and quality of life for internal public (citizens). Its process involves several steps and multidisciplinary teams, which interact with residents and other stakeholders from the political, economic, and social spheres. It is an activity with a transforming capacity of people and places, the same way as design. From this convergence, this study aims to understand the role of designers in a city branding process. We followed an explanatory multiple case study, mapping and decoding the development of the brands of Mississauga (Canada), Eindhoven (Netherlands), Cascais (Portugal) and Porto Alegre (Brazil), as well as the interventions of designers throughout the processes. As a result, it was possible to develop a conceptual model, describing three essential designer’s roles in city branding: articulator, strategist, and activator, delivering relationships, strategy, artefacts, communication, and services.
... Complexity is present in place branding in several aspects. According to Cardoso (2012, p. 25), 'complexity here means a system composed of many elements, layers, and structures, whose interrelationships continuously condition and redefine the functioning of the whole.' 1 A point of complexity much discussed in place branding is the question of the participation of residents and stakeholders during the process, in order to create authentic and consensual brands (Aitken & Campelo, 2011;Braun et al., 2013;Esteves, 2016;Hereźniak, 2017;Kavaratzis, 2012;Kavaratzis & Kalandides, 2015). ...
... Historically, tourism and place marketing has viewed local residents primarily as consumers of the place in which they live and as the bearers of attitudes like satisfaction, consumer loyalty to the place, place attachment, purpose to stay and place attractiveness (Rauhut Kompaniets, 2018;Insch & Florek, 2008;Zenker & Petersen, 2010;Zenker & Rütter, 2014). Viewing the tourism sector as a community industry (Nunkoo et al., 2013;Kavaratzis, 2012;Blichfeldt, 2005) however sees a significant role shift where residents form one of the main stakeholders' group actively creating and influencing the success of tourism destination marketing (Hereźniak, 2017;Sazhina & Shafranskaya, 2017;Rauhut Kompaniets & Rauhut, 2016;Stylidis et al., 2014;Giles et al., 2013;Kavaratzis, 2012;Hankinson, 2004). ...
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This chapter discusses the role of social media and citizen initiatives in tourism marketing to promote the city of Lund as a cultural-historical destination. 'Destination Lund Sweden' is a bottom-up response by residents to the politically controlled local tourism office's attempts to involve residents in top-down activities and their dismantling of the city's tourism brand. By actively using social media to promote the cultural history of Lund, tourists are encouraged to visit the city. The use of active storytelling across various social media channels and the availability of numerous downloadable, free of charge, materials for smart phones and tablets (i.e. maps, guides, films and useful links) available in several languages has been a success and is much appreciated by locals and tourists alike. The local municipal DMO opposes these efforts. The added value of this contribution is the observation that social media has transformed tourism marketing and that local residents themselves are the best ambassadors for a city.
... Stakeholder engagement enriches and deepens the concepts of city branding, introduces new opinions, ideas, and perspectives (Dinnie, 2010;Kavaratzis & Kalandides, 2015). Some scholars emphasize the importance of involving professionals in city branding and take a more instrumental approach, while others believe inclusive, citizen-centric and socially-oriented branding to be more suitable for urban governance (Hereźniak, 2017;Joo & Seo, 2018;Paganoni, 2012). ...
Chinese cities have experienced unprecedented economic growth and urban population expansion in the last four decades. However, a variety of social and environmental problems is associated with urbanization. Cities try to grapple with these challenges but simultaneously find themselves locked in an intense competition with other cities. City branding is viewed as an essential strategy to remain competitive, improve their environmental performance, experience a sustainable urban transformation. However, very little is known about how cities actually implement city branding strategies. This study distinguishes the concepts in use and explores the evolution of research in place branding literature. A progressive relationship between city promotion, city marketing and city branding is proposed and empirically examined. Subsequently, a specific city brand is explored to study how different policy instruments are adopted and configured to realize urban transformation goals. Finally, a detailed investigation in a medium-sized Chinese city shows how stakeholders interact with city policymakers to create and implement city brands. The findings show that cities can apply promotion, marketing or branding strategies to achieve different urban development goals. The study concludes that to successfully implement city branding, extensive stakeholder participation, continuous political commitment and reasonable application of policy instruments are necessary.
... This issue relating to place branding is a fairly new and dynamic development, which can be facilitated by a deeper understanding. Furthermore, this is obtained with the interaction of multiple stakeholders, in order to create value that brands a place, which is inextricably linked to place identity and a sense of place (Hereźniak, 2017). ...
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The New Normal Era needs future adaptation, in order to ensure cities still have competitiveness and resilience in the tourism sector during the pandemic. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the implementation of the Smart Tourism Branding concept in Bantul city, Indonesia, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a quantitative study, using the random sampling method to obtain data from 230 respondents through a questionnaire, which was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). During the initial stage, a statistical test on each question’s validity and reliability in the questionnaire was conducted, after which data analysis was carried out. Before performing multiple linear regression analysis, several assumptions were fulfilled, including data normality and multicollinearity. The results showed that the evaluation of smart tourism branding provides an overview of people’s understanding and satisfaction level with regard to tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jelajah Bantul application, which is a smart tourism branding instrument, supports Bantul City’s ability to compete in attracting tourists and investment globally. In addition, the city’s tourism management and branding identity can be facilitated and strengthened when the synergy strategy of the community and city stakeholders is appropriately regulated.
... Translating vision into action requires the strategic use of policymaking, building assets strength through infrastructure and service planning, and finally, marketing and communicating what the place has to offer (Anholt, 2010;Kavaratzis, 2004). Throughout this process, the various stakeholders of the place need to be consulted, involved and aligned to realise the goals of place branding (Hanna and Rowley, 2015;Kavaratzis and Kalandides, 2015;Hereźniak, 2017). ...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to create a conceptual framework to demonstrate the role of universities as knowledge partners in place branding networks. Design/methodology/approach This research adopts a case study strategy to explore the perceptions of institutional and community stakeholders in Northamptonshire. The objective is to examine the regional activities and engagement of a single-player university in a peripheral region and explore its potential for widening stakeholder participation. Qualitative data was collected through interviews and focus groups and thematically analysed. Findings The university played a complementary “partnership” role to other institutional stakeholders, particularly the public sector. As a knowledge partner, the university filled gaps in information (know-what), skills (know-how) and networks (know-who). The last two aspects are potentially unique to the university’s role in place branding networks and require further development. Research limitations/implications The conceptual framework demonstrates the potential of a single-player university in a peripheral region to enhance the capabilities and skills of stakeholders in place branding networks and widen stakeholder participation. Future researchers can use the framework to develop recommendations for universities’ role in place branding based on their unique situation. Originality/value There has been limited research on how universities participate and influence participation in place branding. The exploration of this topic in the context of a rural, marginalised region is also novel.
... However, with the social and economic changes described above, place branding is more and more often seen as public policy than a marketing exercise (Eshuis et al. 2013;Lucarelli 2018;Hereźniak 2017). Hence, it is frequently postulated that it should no longer neglect those, who are the most affected by its success or failure -the place community itself. ...
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While competing for tourists, business and foreign talent has been the focal point of place branding strategies for the past decades, in many cases it also produced negative externalities for the place residents. As more examples of the adverse effects of the marketization of places come to light, a stronger consideration for the results that branding brings to citizens becomes necessary in scholarly and practical thinking about places. The current paper presents a proposal of the paradigm shift in the place branding discourse, by adopting the public value (PV) approach. It calls for the replacement of competition-oriented and demand-driven perspective on place brand building with activities centred around creating value for the place residents. As a concept embedded in public policy and management literature and one that emerged from the critique of New Public Management approach, PV is here discussed in the context of the evolution of public administration models. The relevance of PV to place branding is then explained with reference to the collective, relational and experiential nature of a place brand. The authors posit that place branding can become an enabler of public value creation in a threefold manner: as a means of PV expression, as the enhancer of social relationships, and as a moderator of social behaviour.
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Social media influencers are emerging as a new force in shaping public discourse and raising public awareness of socio-political agendas in the digital space. This paper explores the role of influencers as part of the citizens group in nation branding by looking into their interactions with followers through the lens of authenticity. It analyzes the networked narratives generated by the influencers and followers, using the mixed methods of blending content analysis with social network analysis. The findings identify the potential of influencers evolving as a crucial force in contributing to a representative national brand informed through imbuing authenticity with engagement, featuring valued-based content, interactivity, creativity and intrinsic motivations within an ethical communication mechanism. It advances influencer studies in nation branding by underpinning the two-way construct of authenticity in generating influence; and informs the development of strategies for engaging citizens in nation branding through influencers using authenticity. Considering the central role of China in international economics, politics and culture, this article has significant domestic and regional implications.
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This article aims to explore the impact of digital communication tools application by citizens and the perceived usefulness of social media on the relationship between citizens and local authorities. The data were gathered in April–September 2020 through a survey (CAWI) among citizens of Poznan, Poland (n=502), and Kutaisi, Georgia (n=504), and were analyzed with structural equation modeling. The findings show that the intensity of digital communication tools usage for participation in the city branding and the perceived usefulness of social media contribute to the lasting relationships between citizens and local authorities in both countries. The novelty of this research concerns comparing two countries with different levels of development. Georgia is a developing economy in Europe and is in the process of modernizing the local governance across the cities. Poland, however, is a mature economy with a post-transformation heritage, where its cities benefit from considerable experience in building and developing citizen participation policies. Furthermore, the research was conducted amid the COVID-19 pandemic and evidenced the growing popularity of digital tools adoption by citizens in city matters. This study contributes to understanding the impact of digital tools on the relationship between citizens and local authorities in terms of city brand management. Citizens' participation in the city branding process via various digital communication tools increased citizen commitment towards long-lasting collaboration with local authorities. Moreover, citizens' perception of social media usefulness positively influences their desire to engage in the city branding process online, supporting the trust-building and collaboration between citizens and local authorities. Points for practitioners The intensiveness of digital tools usage – governments should identify the tools already trusted and popular among their audience and employ those tools to a greater extent to maximize the chances of feedback, high citizen participation, and commitment. Citizens’ perception of social media – such characteristics as ease of use, transparency, ease of communication with the municipality, and safety encourage citizens to get involved in the city brand management process. Consequently, local authorities should consider the features mentioned above and develop the online tools quality.
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The goal of this paper is to explore the importance and the nature of citizen involvement for the branding of places in relation to Expo events. In particular, the authors analyse the various ways in which residents can be included at specific stages of organizing an Expo—from application through realization of the exhibition to post activities. The theoretical background for the discussion on citizen involvement in place branding is rooted in public management and corporate branding. Consequently, in the empirical part, the authors adopt an institutional perspective on local stakeholders’ involvement. The research method employed in the study was a semi-structured interview. These interviews were conducted with institutional representatives of five European Expo host cities, in order to identify how public institutions responsible for the organization of an Expo (1) perceive the role of citizens in this mega event; (2) employ strategies for citizen involvement in Expo exhibitions; and (3) evaluate barriers, problems and controversies related to the process of involvement. Respondents clearly stated that a sense of community, internal pride and aspirations or a unique collective experience were important reasons to host an Expo in their cities. Based on the survey results, there seemed to have been general agreement on the importance of citizen involvement during the event; however, the respondents’ views differed on the matter of involvement before the event (during the application process). It can also be observed that citizen engagement in the case of Expos is more intense before/during than after the event. Cities who have already hosted an Expo highlighted the beneficial effect that the event had on the community, and stressed the heightened post-Expo satisfaction of citizens, compared with their pre-expo attitudes and expectations.
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This article introduces the idea of brand community. A brand community is a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand. Grounded in both classic and contemporary sociology and consumer behavior, this article uses ethnographic and computer mediated environment data to explore the characteristics, processes, and particularities of three brand communities (those centered on Ford Bronco, Macintosh, and Saab). These brand communities exhibit three traditional markers of community: shared consciousness, rituals and traditions, and a sense of moral responsibility. The commercial and mass-mediated ethos in which these communities are situated affects their character and structure and gives rise to their particularities. Implications for branding, sociological theories of community, and consumer behavior are offered.
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This article introduces a novel approach towards place branding theory, adopting a view based on the relationship between the place brand and place identity. The article first evaluates the dominant conceptualization of identity within place branding. It is argued that better understanding of the relationship between place identity and place brands might advance the theory of place branding. In its current state, place branding practice and, to a great extent, place branding literature adopt a rather static view on place identity as something that can easily be articulated and communicated for the purposes of branding the place. This approach is limited as it does not reveal the full complexity of place identity and limits the role and potential of place branding. The article, drawing on a combination of the literatures on place identity and organisational identity, proposes a more dynamic view of place identity that considers identity a constant dialogue between the internal and the external. The role of branding within the identity dialogue is then clarified leading to an appreciation of the full dynamics of place brands. The true nature of place branding is revealed as one of interaction and dialogue between stakeholders.
This chapter sets out a simple but challenging proposition: stakeholder engagement is crucial to the success of any city branding strategy, but doing it effectively requires an approach that is more democratic and exploratory than much standard practice.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyse a process for developing indicators of effectiveness for the city brand strategy. Design/methodology/approach – A single-case study method is used as the analytical approach. The proposed indicators of effectiveness were developed in cooperation between the municipal government of a large, post-industrial Polish city and representatives from academia. Findings – The paper addresses three important considerations to be taken into account by city managers when they seek to develop criteria for measuring the effectiveness of branding: links between tangible and intangible effects of brand implementation; spillover effects that sectoral strategies such as those aimed at urban renewal have on the city brand and vice versa; and the adoption of a threefold temporal regime whereby the effects of projects that contribute to the brand strategy are measured in the short, medium and long term. Research limitations/implications – The proposed approach offers a useful point of departure for place managers for the design of place brand strategy evaluation systems. The study is limited to the case of a single city. Practical implications – The merger of brand management and public management perspectives re-evaluates the existing attempts to measure place brand strategy effectiveness. The new approach stimulates place authorities to consider multiple perspectives on the methods and instruments of measurement. It also implies the organisational shift where a number of units from the city hall coordinate their efforts to contribute to the assessment of the brand strategy. Social implications – A more systematic approach to measurement of place brand strategy effectiveness can be used to increase the level of legitimacy of brand-related activities in the eyes of internal stakeholders and to increase the level of professionalism among the public officers responsible for effectiveness measurement. Originality/value – Theoretical considerations and the practice of place branding alike tend to give insufficient attention to criteria for measuring the effectiveness of place-branding strategies. This paper concentrates on the process of translating general strategic objectives into specific, measureable and time-bound operational indicators. The combination of theoretical insights into place branding together with public management grounds this approach in the administrative environment in which local authorities work.
The concept of good enough governance provides a platform for questioning the long menu of institutional changes and capacity-building initiatives currently deemed important (or essential) for development. Nevertheless, it falls short of being a tool to explore what, specifically, needs to be done in any real world context. Thus, as argued by the author in 2004, given the limited resources of money, time, knowledge, and human and organisational capacities, practitioners are correct in searching for the best ways to move towards better governance in a particular country context. This article suggests that the feasibility of particular interventions can be assessed by analysing the context for change and the implications of the content of the intervention being considered.
Brands are one of marketing’s main foci. But while the American Marketing Association’s official marketing definition continues to evolve, its brand definition has remained stagnant for nearly 80 years. This article argues that the AMA’s simplistic trademark conceptualization of brands is increasingly out of touch with marketing theory and practice. Integrating the consumer culture, marketing semiotics, and General Systems Theory literatures, we re-conceptualize brands as semiotic marketing systems. This follows marketing systems being core to macromarketing. It also obeys marketing systems needing to contemplate their meaning infrastructures given today’s progressively symbolic markets. The antecedents, operation and benefits of this new systems approach to brands are discussed. Brands are re-defined as complex multidimensional constructs with varying degrees of meaning, independence, co-creation and scope. Brands are semiotic marketing systems that generate value for direct and indirect participants, society, and the broader environment, through the exchange of co-created meaning.
This article examines the relationship between citizens and government, and proposes a value-centered model that focuses on the worth of government to its citizens. The value-centered perspective builds on two models presented in previous research: the customer model and the owner model. We contrast these models and show how they interrelate. We then report the results of exploratory field research with constituents of a Northeastern city to examine the applicability and usefulness of the value perspective in describing and influencing citizen perceptions of the value of city government. The results suggest that citizens were unaccustomed to thinking of the value of government; yet they expressed opinions, engaged in activities, and coinvestedpersonal resources in a way that was consistent with the value perspective.
Purpose – This paper aims to develop a participatory approach to place branding. In doing so, it offers guidance on how to implement a participatory place branding strategy within place management practice. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on theoretical insights drawn from the combination of distinct literatures on place branding, general marketing and collaborative governance. Findings – The paper highlights the importance of residents in the place branding process and argues that their special functions as ambassadors for the place constitute the most valuable assets in place branding.Thus, a participatory place branding approach involving residents is needed.To implement this approach, three stages are necessary: (stage1) defining a shared vision for the place including core place elements; (stage 2) implementing a structure for participation; (stage 3) supporting residents in their own place branding projects. Originality/value – The inclusion of residents is often requested in contemporary place branding literature. Unfortunately, none of these articles offer a real strategy for participatory place brandingso far. Thus, this conceptual essay provides a participatory place branding approach to help place managers implement such structure.