Academic lesson (part 1): what city branding is not…

marketingbrandimagediverseb A brief by Elise Baudelet, junior expert in territorial marketing at the CAAC 

As a consequence of the globalization, cities all over the world have been working to widen their attractiveness, to perform better and to define their uniqueness. Therefore, when they started using marketing strategies to become more competitive, city branding was born. However, this concept is not analogous neither to company branding nor to tourism promotion, but a multi-dimensional activity involving various stakeholders. As a result, public authorities and many cities, on their own or in associations like the CAAC, attempt to build up an efficient integrated city branding strategy and to put theory into practice.

Recently, the advance of branding has encouraged places to “think more like businesses” (1). Nevertheless, in this field many authors argue that these are not companies neither products. Thus, brand management could be used with some adaptations to create an efficient model.

Besides, there is common agreement around place branding as a multi-dimensional concept. Aiming for efficiency, some authors (2) claim that the economic, social, political and cultural dimensions are useful additional elements to traditional marketing. For others (3), the marketing mix usually referred to as the 4P’s (Product, Place, Promotion, Price), should have in the case of cities two more P’s: Politics and Paucity(5).

In academic publications, theory often refers to destination and so only tourism enhancement is taken into account (eg: G. Hankinson(2), N. Morgan(3), H. Skinner(4)). However, due to the internal stakeholders’ interactions: public institutions, companies and citizens; some authors assume that places are more than just a destination. Researchers give more or less importance to these stakeholders and their strategic role. For some, companies are essential for the long term benefits they generate, for others, citizens have to adhere to the identity and its communication. Possibly the weight of these internal actors depends on the particular culture and organisation of the city.

(1)Kotler, Haider, & Rein (1993) Marketing places attracting investment, industry, and tourism to cities, states, and nations. The Free Press

(2)Hankinson, G. (2007) The management of destination brands: Five guiding principles based on recent developments in corporate branding theory. Journal of Brand Management 14(3) : 240-254

(3)Morgan, N. and Pritchard, A., Piggott R. (2002) New Zealand, 100% Pure. The creation of a powerful niche destination brand. Journal of Brand Management 9 (4/5): 335-354

(4)Skinner, H. and Kubacki, K. (2008) The emergence and development of place marketing’s confused identity. Journal of Marketing Management 24(9/10) : 915-928

(5) “The presence of something in only small or insufficient quantities” (

One thought on “Academic lesson (part 1): what city branding is not…

  1. Pingback: Academic lesson (part 2): Umbrella brand for cities? | Atlantic Arc Cities

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