The Image of the City
En linies budskab
Urban branding still remains a rather unexplored and neglected aspect of urban transformation processes. Yet very little research has been conducted on how cities brand themselves.
The project aims at studying urban branding processes and marketing strategies as a competitive advantage in a globalized economy. Through selected case studies in Nordic and European city regions that have succeeded in creating or recreating an image of the city that has become nationally or internationally recognized, the study will map Nordic and international best practices and generate knowledge on how such urban marketing and development processes are best organized and accomplished.
Analytically, the project will be based on the following three research areas:
1) Best practices in urban and regional branding:
- How have city regions with a well known and consistent brand succeeded in getting it right?
- What characterizes the actors and institutional bodies, private or public, involved in urban branding processes?
2) To what extent is successful image (re)creation paralleled and substantiated by a respective material or physical change in the urban landscape?
3) How does urban image (re)creation influence upon surrounding (metropolitan) regions?
Markus Bugge et. al.
Nordic Innovation Centre
Throughout the last decades there has been a growing awareness of the cities' role as an impetus for innovation and regional economic growth in Europe, and similarly a growing willingness to develop strategies for urban renewal and revitalization. Increasingly, efforts are made to create attractive urban spaces and to improve the urban environment in order to attract visitors, workers and companies.
Urban branding still remains a rather unexplored and neglected aspect of urban transformation processes. Yet very little research has been conducted on how cities brand themselves; how cities succeed in creating or recreating a brand for the city as a good to be marketed and sold. By examining strategies of urban and regional branding from an innovation system approach, the project will generate new knowledge on how cities and regions may brand themselves in order to attract investments, skilled workers and tourists.
This report builds upon a study of various urban and regional branding initiatives. In particular it looks at how they can contribute to constructing competitive advantage. Through selected case studies in the object is to analyze the various approaches and branding processes that have been undertaken in Nordic and European city regions.
This project concludes that the problem with branding cities is that they are very diverse products that can be difficult to fit neatly into a marketing campaign. Even if one can fit a city into one or a number of campaigns, running such campaigns can be difficult to manage and sustain. However, even if we think that cities and regions need to find their own paths and solutions there is much to be learnt from the experiences of other places. Through our work during this project we found that certain points emerged as important.
These points have been summarized into 10 commandments:
- There is no recipe for success
- Urban branding is just a little part of community building
- Don’t just tell it, show it
- Uniqueness and innovation is key
- Branding is a long-term process
- Top-down / Bottom-up branding strategies
- Well functioning organisational capacity and flexibility is important
- It is not necessarily true that you are in competition with everyone else
- Brands work at many different spatial and temporal levels
- The role of key persons
The Image of the City is a research project primarily financed by Nordic Innovation Centre. The project team also gratefully acknowledges co-funding from other organizations including Uppsala University, Alborg University, Norconsult, The City of Helsinki, The City of Espoo and The City of Vantaa.