Purpose: City branding has gained popularity as governance strategy. However, the academic underpinning is still poor, and city branding needs a more critical conceptualization, as well as more complex management systems. This paper the use of a “one size fits all” city brand, which is still common practice in many places. The paper proposes that city branding involves much more complexity than is commonly thought and outlines a strategy that enables urban policy-makers, marketing researchers and (place) marketers alike to better deal with city branding.
Design/methodology/approach: The authors integrate insights from literature on place branding, brand architecture and customer-focused marketing.
Findings: The article argues that place brands (in general and communicated place brands in particular) are by definition very complex, due to their different target groups, diverse place offerings and various associations place customers could have. Thus, an advanced brand management including target group-specific sub-brands is needed.
Practical implications: The model will be helpful for place brand managers dealing with a diverse target audience, and is likely to improve the target group-specific communication.
Originality/value: The paper provides an insight into the complexity of city brands and acknowledges that the perception of city brands can differ considerably among different target groups. Additionally, it offers a more comprehensive definition of place brands. This will be helpful for city brand managers and researchers alike in dealing with city brand complexity.

Publication information

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Place Management and Development
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)270-287
StatePublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Brand management, Place brand, Brand complexity, City branding, City communication management, City marketing

ID: 47016255