Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to strengthen the conceptual understanding of place brands and place branding by exploring to what extent place branding implies a level of selectivity and how this relates to the layering of spatial identities. Design/methodology/approach – A conceptual approach has been taken in this paper to provide an analytical conceptualisation of place branding to guide future empirical studies. The research, and the resulting paper has been structured around a progressive discussion of place as concept, of place brands as limited forms of geographical representations and of place branding as a highly selective process. Findings – Places are highly complex and cannot simply be understood as spatial entities within a closed hierarchical, territorial‐administrative system. Places only exist when they have an audience, and the resulting spatial identities often overlap, contradict or complement each other across existing territorial‐administrative levels. The rise of new forms of spatial identities results in new “places”, and all places can be seen as having or being brands. The notion of place branding implies market segmentation and a certain level of power to exercise control by selecting target groups and formulating policy, strategy and undertaking action. Research limitations/implications – In future empirical and conceptual research concerned with place branding the inherent selectivity of place branding should be given more attention. The ends to which place branding is used as a means should be paid more attention in both policy (practice) and science (theory). Originality/value – This paper contributes to the understanding of the metaphorical translation of branding and marketing towards places and spaces.
Journal of Place Management and Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 26, 2011
Keywords: Place branding; Place marketing; Spatial identities; Market segmentation; Brand management