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DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PLACE BRANDING AND DESTINATION BRANDING FOR LOCAL BRAND STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT

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Abstract

To highlight the principles used in the design and development of a regional brand strategy we need to identify the disciplinary and the theoretical referential that would best fit the branding approach. This paper will address the main forms of branding: place branding, location branding and destination branding, as a specialized form of destination marketing. From the theoretical point of view, by identifying the fundamental and the management brand model, the regional tourism brand concept is regarded by positioning it in the category (the most general one) of place branding.
Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov
Series VII: Social Sciences • Law • Vol. 6 (55) No. 1 - 2013
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PLACE
BRANDING AND DESTINATION
BRANDING FOR LOCAL BRAND
STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT
Victor-Alexandru BRICIU1
Abstract: To highlight the principles used in the design and development of
a regional brand strategy we need to identify the disciplinary and the
theoretical referential that would best fit the branding approach. This paper
will address the main forms of branding: place branding, location branding
and destination branding, as a specialized form of destination marketing.
From the theoretical point of view, by identifying the fundamental and the
management brand model, the regional tourism brand concept is regarded by
positioning it in the category (the most general one) of place branding.
Key words: place brand, destination brand, local strategy development.
1 Department of Social Sciences and Communication, Transilvania University of Brasov.
1. Introduction
The term "place" refers to a much more
holistic concept, rather than "destination".
"Place" includes or signifies all economic
activities and feelings that are related to it.
The term "place" can also refer to a nation
(or a country), a city or a region. Is not
strictly related to tourism activities. Place
marketing and place branding are
concerned with attracting people who can
choose they live, work, study or visit, to
choose to do so in a particular place. They
are talented, mobile people who bring
wealth and investment with them.
[1, pp.15-6].
The same perspective is also found at
other authors: "Where branding using the
term ‘destination’ implies a tourism
perspective, place branding provides an
even wider perspective that would include
all interactions of a place with its
environment, including political, outside
investment, trade, immigration and media
issues. Both destination branding and place
branding could include country, region or
city branding." [4, p.14].
Starting with the justification related to
the need for disambiguity of the term
"destination" and by trying to provide a
pertinent and theoretical explanation for
the choice of place branding model, rather
than the destination branding framework,
in positioning the regional brand concept,
it is necessary to define also the destination
as "a geographical space in which a cluster
of tourism resources exist, rather than a
political boundary" [8, p.24] and " A
destination brand is probably best
described as the essence of the destination
from the perspective of potential visitors.
But it should also be recognisable to
Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov • Series VII • Vol. 6 (55) No. 1 - 2013
10
residents. Ideally these two perspectives
should gel and thereby reinforce each
other." [1, p.8].
S. Pike provides a further explanation of
the cluster, as "[...] an accumulation of
tourist resources and attractions,
infrastructures, equipments, service
providers, other support sectors and
administrative organisms whose integrated
and coordinated activities provide
customers with the experiences they
expected from the destination they chose to
visit." Rubies, 2001 apud [8, p.24].
Also from the destination branding
perspective, the study coordinated by the
World Tourism Organization & European
Travel Commission: Handbook on
Tourism Destinations Branding states that
terms such as the “place branding”,
“nation-branding” and “country-branding”
are becoming increasingly important.
They refer to the global or holistic
branding process of a country, nation or
place (where "place" covers any
recognisable geographical entity. It is used
as a generic term and can refer to a
country, a region or a city). It refers to how
a place (city, region or country) self-
presents on the national or international
stage in different area such as business,
diplomacy, culture or tourism. This
underpins its efforts to attract investors,
businesses, tourists and students, as well as
to enhance its reputation as a good place to
live, to trust in international relations, and
to do business and trade with. [1, p.7]
2. Branding perspectives on products,
organizational environment and places
M. Kavaratzis [6, p.59] provides a
plausible explanation regarding the
implementation of the marketing
philosophy, or at least the marketing
techniques that that were easy to adapt and
use in the practice of local or regional
governance, has been mirrored by the
increasing interest of academics from
various fields, who believe that the
principles of marketing are, with the
necessary modifications, applicable to
regions and their operational environment.
Therefore, quoting Ashworth and Voogd
(1994), we can identify the theoretical
emergence of place marketing, through
developments and transfer of marketing
knowledge that emanated from the
industrial products and services
techniques: "These are the development of
marketing in non-profit organisations, of
social marketing and of image marketing."
apud M. Kavaratzis [6, p.59] We find a
similar explanation at Gert-Jan Hospers,
which states that the strategy of creating a
positive image is known as the "place
marketing" or “branding”. This is a
popular instrument which it is hoped, will
contribute to making areas known and to
improving their reputation.
However, not everyone is convinced of
the merits of this strategy. Some analysts
have criticized the use of marketing as a
instrument for regional policy, as they fear
a process of manipulation and selling out
to the business community. The selling of
areas in the market, they argue, brings
about a "commodification of places".
Considering regions as products,
authorities run the risk of neglecting the
human aspect of areas, which may conflict
with the public responsibilities of
government. In practice, however, the
regions make extensive use of headline-
grabbing slogans and promotion
campaigns to put themselves on the map.
Though the effect of this place marketing
strategy is difficult to measure, it would
seem that some places really have
succeeded in developing a strong brand.
[5, p.273].
There are many examples of this kind in
North America and Western Europe, such
as "Austin – The Music Capital of the
USA", "Toronto - A City which Works",
BRICIU, V.-A.: Differences between Place Branding and Destination Branding… 11
"Sardinia - Proud to Be Different" and
"There is Nothing Beyond Groningen".
The evolution of these concrete
expressions of place marketing show that
the image people have developed of the
regions in question has become more
realistic and has positively influenced over
the years. Some people have said that if
there had not been such promotional
campaigns, would not consider these
locations as areas for business, residence
or leisure and entertainment. [5 p.273-4].
There was a strong exchange of best
practices between commercial marketing
and "destination marketing" for decades,
and indeed the term "destination branding"
is been in use for more than ten years
(although it is also the cause of
considerable confusion, it is often wrongly
conflated with “place branding” or “nation
branding”). [3, p.3].
The difference between a destination
product and a destination brand is that the
first is a neutral description that has no
emotional value invested in it. A
destination brand, on the other hand, is a
description of the core essence of the
place in terms of its values as perceived by
consumers, is about the emotional
relationship between the place and its
visitors - how they perceive the enduring
nature of the destination in relation to other
places. In short, it is about the personality
of the place and how it makes people feel
about it. [1, p.11].
M. Kavaratzis [7, p.3] introduces the
synonymy of two concepts: "place
branding / city" (e.g. as far as the city is
synonymous with a concrete and specific
form of a place, a region, then Brasov can
be considered a form, a variety of place
branding), considering them as the final
trends in the literature, and they can be
found in a significant number of scientific
articles discussing the possibility of using
branding as an approach to integration,
guidance and focus of place management.
Borrowing from the techniques and ideas
developed from the general theory of
branding and, in particular, by
increasingly accepting the rising
importance of the concept of corporate
branding, these articles discuss the
similarity between the general concepts of
branding with place branding and the
attempt to propose a general framework
for developing and managing place brands
(Hankinson, 2001; Hankinson, 2004;
Kavaratzis, 2004), or examining the
suitability of specific branding
instruments for the case of city branding
(Trueman et al., 2004). This latter model
is characterized by the attempt of
implementing corporate branding
concepts and specific methodologies
developed in this field to place branding
theory.
As M. Kavaratzis also states [6, p.60]:
"One concept that has emerged in recent
years and has a clear and direct relevance
to marketing implementation in cities is
the concept of corporate branding and
corporate-level marketing, which is a
theoretical and practical development of
the earlier concepts of corporate image
and corporate identity (eg Balmer, 1998;
Balmer and Greyser, 2003)."
In the past, the concept of strategic
place marketing, idea developed by Kotler
et al. (1993), was among the first to adopt
a clear position that places must organize
as business and promote themselves, if
they are to respond adequately to the
threats of global competition,
technological change and urban decay.
[3, p.2].
The concept of place image (described
above as a specific concept for the
corporate environment) is brought into
question and its importance recognized by
Kotler's early work, but place marketing
is still seen as a tool to sell products,
services and attractions a space in a more
efficient way, and not for tackling the
Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov • Series VII • Vol. 6 (55) No. 1 - 2013
12
overall image or reputation of the place in
any direct way.
The implication seems to be that
marketing – through development,
promotion, distribution and sale of products
and services - is a legitimate, tangible and
measurable activity, with direct economic
benefits, "a real job" someone might say,
while the brand or the branding activity is
an academic construct, a psychological
process, a phenomenon for observation and
not a discipline that can be practiced.
In a sense, the dictionary does a disservice
for marketing by suggesting that changing
the attitude and image are foreign concepts:
the distinction is whether talking about
attitude and image directly represents a
peripheral or is a function of marketing.
There is no doubt that changes in attitude
and image may appear as a result of
successful marketing applied to products or
services: in other words as an indirect
consequence of marketing. [3, p.2].
R. Govers & F. Go, [4, p.13] consider in
the work Place Branding - Glocal, Virtual
and Physical Identities, Constructed,
Imagined and Experienced that there are
significant differences between product
branding, the branding of corporations and
place branding, the latter concept being
defined as:
"the marketing activities (1) that support
the creation of a name, symbol, logo, word
mark or other graphic that both identifies
and differentiates a destination; (2) that
convey the promise of a memorable travel
experience that is uniquely associated with
the destination; and (3) that serve to
consolidate and reinforce the recollection
of pleasurable memories of the destination
experience, all with the intent purpose of
creating an image that influences
consumers’ decisions to visit the
destination in question, as opposed to an
alternative one." Blain et al., 2005 apud
[4, p. 13-4].
3. Conclusions. What can we do to make
our region noticed?
Place marketing can be a powerful
strategy, complementing the efforts of the
authorities to promote the natural
attractions of a region. Ideally, the brand a
place communicates should be the shortest
translation of those particular things an
area is proud of or wants to stand for.
“Ideally, place marketing closes the gap
between what an area really is ("identity"),
what outsiders think about it ("image") and
how the location wants to be known in the
outside world (its "brand" or desired
reputation). To achieve this, it is necessary
to communicate and promote the
attractions and advantages of private. To
close this gap, it is necessary to
communicate and promote the area's
particular attraction and distinctive
advantages.” [5, p.274].
At the same time, in practice, the regions
do not make much effort to highlight
themselves from their rivals. For example,
the American urban areas of Siketon
(Missouri), Webb City (Missouri) and
Davison (Michigan) have all adopted the
profile of the "City of Flags". Similar
copycat behaviour can be observed in
Europe, where many authorities are
dazzled by Silicon high-tech dreams and
hope to copy the alleged success of Silicon
Valley. Inspired by this area of California
more and more regions are presenting
themselves using the terms "Silicon" or
"Valley" - without expressing exactly what
differentiates them from each other. Such
examples include Silicon Glen (Scotland),
Dommel Valley (a southern region of the
Netherlands), Silicon Saxony (an eastern
zone of Germany) and Language Valley
(Flanders). Promoting such a profile, none
of these regions articulate clearly what
differentiates them from each other nor do
they give any idea of what they have to
offer to people looking for a place to work
BRICIU, V.-A.: Differences between Place Branding and Destination Branding… 13
and live. In this way, the regions
undermine their own competitiveness: the
real competitive advantages can be
achieved by creating or emphasizing local
conditions - or in other words "trend
through tradition". [5, p.274].
There would be an elementary question
about the image of a region or location
which has often been addressed in the
literature, and which further remained
largely unresolved: the regions benefit
more if they have a clear and simple image
or is more preferable that they have a rich
one, complex or even contradictory?
Simon Anholt [2, p.91-6] proposes an
explanation to this question, assuming that
branding is definitely seen as a process of
reduction, simplification. Clarity,
determined by a distinct or unique
positioning, is often invoked as a product
only opportunity to change the consumer’s
indifference of many competitive choices,
to stand up in the “the chaos of the
marketplace and the clutter of the media.”
[2, p.91].
But, as the authors arguments continue,
regions or locations express exactly the
opposite of the above explanation, and it
is one of the main reasons why the
practice of commercial branding does not
apply directly to their management or
promotion: common sense suggests and
research tends to confirm that the richness
and complexity are valuable attributes for
the image of a location (be it country,
city, state, region, etc.).
Even from the destination branding
perspective, we can distinguish a similar
view: “Destinations therefore need to
identify their most potent appeals, seek the
essence that makes them different and
attractive to visitors, and consistently
promote this essence through all marketing
communications and behaviour. Over time
this will help the destination gain a
consistent reputation, based on these brand
values." [1, p.10].
The entities involved in the process of
branding should not ask themselves "What
can we say or do to become famous?" But
"What can we do to make the region
noticed?" The relevance of a particular
region to an audience, to its publics
involves a limited number of concepts
which, very often, are removed from the
discourse of branding. The first concept,
which accidentally is also one of the basic
rules of a marketing action strategy,
involves grounding a very clear analysis of
the perceptions, needs, habits and
aspirations of the target audience of the
brand.
S. Anholt [2, p.94] performs a critic to
governmental teams dealing with place
branding, as they rarely managed to
discover and value other plans than the
internal one, ending in simply describing
that location, repeating lists of
achievements and attributes, carefully set
out previously. This shows a serious
marketing mistake by not providing any
reason for purchase, failing to demonstrate
any ways to understand the target audience
of the brand, the lack of empathy or
sympathy for the brand, not allowing any
dialogue. Another error regarding place
branding strategy is incapacity to offer any
reward to target publics in opposition to
their attention attached to the brand; again,
this is a marketing mistake by assuming
that the audience is as much interested in
the brand as those who manage it.
From the place marketing's perspective,
the location must find a balance between
identity, image and reputation desired, the
brand. If these items are found, the brand
of a specific region may be the common
denominator between the various elements
(economy, infrastructure, education and
culture) and participants (residents,
entrepreneurs, governments) that sum up
the region.
In fact, the promotion of the elements
that a region has to offer is not only the
Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov • Series VII • Vol. 6 (55) No. 1 - 2013
14
problem of the authorities. The effort for a
positive reputation requires the
development of an "organizational
capacity" in the region. Forming strategic
networks between public and private
sectors, consulting residents and local
groups and a unitary development vision
can be beneficial to capture the interest of
the region; in particular local businessmen,
who have extensive experience in
marketing, are valuable partners for
authorities who want to create a successful
brand. A final observation that represents a
disadvantage of place marketing is that the
process remains intangible. Because of this
and the inherent blur it is useful to connect
the marketing to the start of a concrete
project in the public domain. Figurehead
projects, such as the building of a
prestigious monument or a public
attraction, can make the abstractness of an
"imagined area" more visible and support
it. [5, p.274-5].
References
1. *** Handbook on Tourism Destinations
Branding, World Tourism Organization
and European Travel Commision,
Madrid, 2009.
2. Anholt, S.: Editorial: Should place
brands be simple? In: Place Branding
and Public Diplomacy, vol. 5, no. 2
(2009), p. 91-96.
3. Anholt, S.: Editorial: Definitions of
place branding - Working towords a
resolution. In: Place Branding and
Public Diplomacy, vol. 6, no. 1 (2010),
p. 1-10.
4. Govers, R., Go, F.: Place Branding.
Glocal, Virtual and Physical Identities,
Constructed, Imagined and Experienced.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
5. Hospers, G.-J.: Place Marketing in
Europe. The Branding of the Oresund
Region. Paper presented at
Intereconomics, sept. - oct. 2004.
6. Kavaratzis, M.: From city marketing to
city branding: Towards a theoretical
framework for developing city brands.
In: Place Branding, vol. 1, nr. 1(2004),
p. 58-73.
7. Kavaratzis, M.: Branding the City
through Culture and Entertainment.
Paper presented at Aesop 05, Viena,
2005.
8. Pike, S.: Destination Marketing: An
Integrated Marketing Communication
Approach. Oxford. Butterworth-
Heinemann, Elsevier, 2008.
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Place Marketing in Europe. The Branding of the Oresund Region. Paper presented at Intereconomics, sept
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Hospers, G.-J.: Place Marketing in Europe. The Branding of the Oresund Region. Paper presented at Intereconomics, sept. -oct. 2004.