Research Paper: "My city - my brand: the different roles of residents in place branding"

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Citation: Erik Braun, Mihalis Kavaratzis, Sebastian Zenker, (2013) "My city – my brand: the different roles of residents in place branding", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 6 Iss: 1, pp.18 - 28
(Leigh Ann)

This paper focuses on residents in place making. I chose it because I agree with the author’s point that residents are often overlooked in this field and that they should, indeed be given consideration. Our project, involving a cultural heritage tracker, would contribute to the branding of Turku if it was implemented. Therefore, I would like to see Turku residents somehow included in our project.

I searched in Google Scholar for something concerning city self-esteem and social media because that is the aspect I am most interested with our project: How can what is the role of social media in city image (branding). I do not like to use the word “branding” because it insinuates a business setting. This article treats the branding of a city as a business venture, and encourages participation of the residents purely for economic gain – the author’s desire to bump up the importance of residents seems to be only because they greatly affect stakeholders in place making (ex: degree of local friendliness affects the tourism industry), not because they are stakeholders.

The main points that I got out of this paper are as follows:

• Three main target groups of place branding (according to the earliest literature on place branding):

1. residents
2. companies
3. visitors
• In this view, residents are just one of three target groups. Residents have often been overlooked or at least not given the value they deserve in place branding. This article seeks to correct that by pointing out that:
-- more focus has been on tourists and image from without than the people who actually live in a place, even though residents greatly impact and are impacted by their physical lived space
-- companies have been given great importance because of their economic value
-- place branding has been top-down, starting with local authorities only being concerned with business interests and property owners

• No single accepted definition of place branding. It is simply creating “a good name” for a place and “a network of associations in consumers’ minds”. • A 2009 study indicated that “consulting residents more could improve place branding theory and practice.”

-- The most important things contributing to branding, according to this study, are social bonding, strong brand personality, and business creativity.
-- Secondly come nature, cultural activities, and shopping.

• Residents have three roles in place branding:

1. residents as integrated part of a place brand (the bread and butter)’
2. residents as ambassadors for their place brand
• word of mouth – celebrity and other
• social networks for visitors or movers
3. Residents as citizens (most neglected role)
• loc. gov. officials should guarantee the right to residents to be able to actively participate in place making
• ex. Residents successfully changed “I Amsterdam” to “I AMsterdam”

• An opposing view to the author’s– Residents are “employees”—this view contradicts the idea that residents are the most important place customers.

• Place branding can act as a tool for conflict resolution among differing groups of residents, through the process of defining a brand that encompasses various groups.

• Considering residents takes place-making authorities out of their comfort zone. To make this easier, the approach should change from communication dominant to participation dominant.

• SOCIAL MEDIA: images, reviews, discussion, etc . . . exactly what we hope to offer through our project.

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