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Calidad Revistas Científicas Españolas
Author / José FERNÁNDEZ-CAVIA Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Barcelona, Spain
Author / Mihalis KAVARATZIS University of Leicester. Leicester, United Kingdom
Author / Nigel MORGAN Swansea University. Swansea, United Kingdom
More authors:  1 2 3
Article / Place branding: A communication perspective

Abstract /

It is common to introduce special issues on place branding with the observation that the last 25 years or so have seen an impressive rise in its significance as an academic field and its popularity as a practice. Academics in several disciplines are focusing their attention on the ways in which branding can be applied to places, reflecting the complex, cross-disciplinary nature of the field. The valuable work of a number of scholars in recent years has advanced the theoretical background of the discipline. Furthermore, the application of branding strategies to a variety of places has greatly contributed to the popularization and professionalization of the field, something also verified by the founding of the International Place Branding Association. However, if place branding is no longer an emerging field of study, it has not yet established itself as a mature discipline. This is, at least partly, a result of the lack of consensus as to its theoretical foundations, its ‘proper’ practical application or, indeed, its effectiveness. Skinner’s earlier assessment of the confusion evident in the field (Skinner, 2008) is still accepted as valid (e.g. Kavaratzis et al., 2015). Braun (2012) finds an explanation for this confusion –in addition to the relative youth of the field– in the fact that there is no single accepted definition of brands and branding within the marketing/branding mainstream. Furthermore, places as branded entities present particular challenges and increased complexity (e.g. Morgan et al., 2011). One of the prevailing qualities of place branding is that it critically affects people’s lives as residents and citizens. At the same time, one of its most problematic features is that the image and reputation of places depend heavily on factors that are complex and often impossible to control. To further complicate things, another fascinating characteristic of place branding is its cross-disciplinary nature, which makes it necessary to cross-fertilise approaches. In the study of place branding, theoretical underpinnings from many disciplines like economics, urban planning, geography, sociology, tourism, marketing, politics and so forth have all played an important role. This is, of course, particularly the case for the discipline of communication, whose links to place branding are indeed very strong. In a sense, it could be argued that branding is in essence a form of communication. This is why this special issue on place branding in a communication journal becomes timely and relevant. This special issue deals with place branding from a communication perspective and sets out to provide a starting point for a deeper examination of the relationship between these two fields. To do that, it is useful to go back to the basics of this relationship, which is what this introduction attempts.

Keywords /

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