Rethinking the place brand: the interactive formation of place brands and the role of participatory place branding
2016-02-04T10:19:22Z (GMT) by
This article attempts to ‘rethink’ place brands after examining in detail how people form them in their minds. The article starts with a very brief account of the place branding literature to provide the necessary background and goes on to identify what we see as a shortcoming in current understanding of the place brand: the dominant idea that brands are formed as sums of mental associations. The article attempts to take current understanding of place brands further by going beyond associations and adding a missing element: the interactions between those associations. We propose a rethinking of place brands based on two pillars: first we incorporate more geographical understanding into place branding and, second, we outline a process that allows place elements and placebased associations to combine and form the place brand. The place brand formation process starts when people use place-making elements (materiality, practices, institutions and representations) to form mental associations with the place. These associations are not static but evolve and change over time as they interact with each other on several dimensions. These interactions constitute the way in which the place brand is formed. The argumentation leads to a novel conceptualization of the role of place branding in the above processes. The practical applicability and implications of the proposed rethinking of place brands suggested here are explored in detail through the examination of the branding process followed recently in Bogotá, Colombia, where our approach to place branding has found practical application.