Same same but different: City branding i et imitationsperspektiv

Magnus Ankerstrøm Andreassen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis at hand studies the modern phenomenon of city branding. The idea of branding a city has become increasingly popular throughout the last decade and local governments are creating organizations and practices based on the notion of the importance of having a city brand strategy, which establishes a unique city profile. This particular study revolves around the researcher’s wondering of the observable similarities in city branding campaigns and strategies, especially when the apparent wish for differentiation is taken into account. In examining this paradox, the thesis mainly draws on Gabriel Tarde’s imitation sociology. His concepts of imitation and different imitational dynamics are used to explain and desiccate the phenomenon itself and the communication surrounding city branding. The main analysis focuses on Wonderful Copenhagen and the “Open Copenhagen” initiative as example of specific city brand communication, which includes online descriptions, viral advertisement and statements by people connected to the development of the city brand. In a search for imitational processes along the lines of international tendencies in city branding, Stockholm and Hamburg are observed as well. The study investigates similarities in brand organization, and how central brand agents communicate their own role and the strategy of city branding. The importance of “the other” in constructing brand communication is one of the findings in this study, alongside the translation in imitational processes, which allows for a productive and creative indication of imitation in city branding. Furthermore, this thesis discusses the possibilities of understanding modern city branding according to an imitation sociology, and the implications this will cause. This partially suggests an application of fashion dynamics, and a particular notion of fashion objects as prerequisite for an alternative view on city branding.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages72