50th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Sustainable Regional Growth and Development in the Creative Knowledge Economy", 19-23 August 2010, Jönköping, Sweden
The theoretical development of place branding is in its early stages. The most important contributions so far have come from publications 'translating' insights, methods and tools from corporate branding theory to places and cities in particular. Obviously, an academic field in its early stages has many critical issues to be developed. One major issue is the role of residents in the formation and communications of place brands and their involvement in the place branding process. This paper attempts to fill in this gap by exploring in detail the role that residents are called to play in current place branding practice. The paper argues that there is an urgent need for resident involvement and participation in place branding, due to the reason, that residents simultaneously fulfil different roles in the place marketing process. Firstly, they are target groups of place marketing itself and therefore the main audience of several marketing actions. Secondly, residents are an integrated part of a place brand. Their characteristics, behaviour and reputation could make a city more attractive to visitors, new residents, investors, and companies. Thirdly, residents could function as ambassadors for their place brand. They are in the position to give credibility to any message communicated by city authorities, "making or breaking" the image and brand of their city. Fourthly, they are also citizens and are vital for the political legitimisation of the whole marketing endeavour. The paper explains in detail this fourfold role of the residents and explores the implications for place brand management. Drawing on examples from place marketing practice it demonstrates how residents exert their influence on city brands either though intentional involvement or unintentional negligence. The paper concludes that only through meaningful participation and consultation a more effective and sustainable place branding is possible.
Place branding place marketing urban planning cities residents citizens local communities