Branding Cities for Tourism

22 Feb 2018

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In the times that we live in, everything from products, services, people, to places are branded. This is no more an interesting marketing technique, instead the need of the hour today. While there are some critiques of the concept, Place Branding is becoming a well accepted theoretical development by marketing gurus in the world.

The days where the big cities used to compete with one another for placing headquarters of multi-national companies are gone. To a great extent, this paradigm shift can be attributed to technological advances and lowering of regulations across the world. Therefore, cities can now carve their own niche for a separate value proposition they have on offer.

A great deal of research has been conducted on the concept of city branding; some of the identified requirements for city branding are leadership, strategy and creativity. It is important to admit that a city is widely different from a product, yet has its set of similarities. The greatest point of distinction is that a city is a single product, which can be multi-sold. Therefore, it is imperative that a city defines its target segments clearly. In broad terms, the customers for a city are people who live there, i.e. a city's inhabitants, people who create job there (the creative class) and people who stay there (contribute to the city through tourism).

A city cannot function without its people, who form the stakeholders for the city. A city branding exercise to a great deal is driven by the concept of leadership. Leadership includes a city's citizens, government authorities, private and public companies, institutions, etc. The key to city branding is that there is no hierarchy in the organizational structure for a city's leadership board. They all are equal partners, who take strategic decisions together, implement it as a group and therefore, enjoy the benefits or bear the risks equally.

In order for a city to be a good brand, the city should have distinctive, differentiated characteristics, which can be easily identified by the target group. A city branding exercise requires a city to have certain basic characteristics, without which branding cannot be successful (Winfield-Pfefferkorn, August 2005):

  • The city must offer attractive employment opportunities
  • The purchasing power of the citizens should be reasonable
  • It should provide reasonable living conditions
  • The public transport system should be in place
  • Education and recreational facilities should be present

Branding, if executed well has the capability to infuse life into the city. It has a direct bearing on the work of urban and economic planners for the city. The key is to identify the promise of a value that a city has, i.e. what is it that the city offers which can keep the businesses, institutions and residents attracted and interested in the city (Gelder & Roberts, Branding Bring Life to a City, 2006).

In case of city branding, the role of branding is not just strategic or visionary in nature. The value of the brand is built at every point of contact with the consumer through the experiences that the consumer has at that point. Therefore, relying only on the physical characteristics of the place is not enough. It is each experience which defines the image of the city in the consumers' mind (Baker, 2007)

Therefore, the process of city branding is interesting albeit very complex in nature. There are no one-size-fits-all phenomena for city branding. Each city's stakeholders need to think individually about their city and identify the differentiating characteristics, the strengths and weaknesses and the areas which need work to execute a meaningful, strategic city branding process.


In the competitive age today, almost nothing has a strategic competitive advantage. Therefore, the cities as well are competing with one another for attention, tourism, talent, events, investment etc. (Sicco van Gelder, June, 2008). The author points out the days where the big cities used to compete with one another for placing headquarters of multi-national companies are gone. To a great extent, this paradigm shift can be attributed to technological advances and lowering of regulations across the world. Therefore, cities can now carve their own niche for a separate value proposition they have on offer.

At this point, the author points out that the traditional methods of advertising with CNN or pepping up the proposal in terms of commercial, industrial or cultural spaces is no more enough to lure consumers onshore. This is the onset of requirement of a ‘branding' strategy for a city. He urges the reader to think about how a value proposition needs to be devised from analyzing which aspect of the city can be used to differentiate itself.

He further explains, the three main heads with are required for branding of cities:

  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Creativity


The author has identified ‘Leadership' as the most crucial component of any city branding exercise and how if leadership is taken into consideration, strategy and creativity can be built around it. The first step to leadership is identifying who are the stakeholders of the city, who would work as partners in the a combined unified goal of re-structuring the city, because unless all the stake holders are on the same page, a restructuring, branding or any such activity can be successfully implemented.

In addition to this, it is important to realize that unlike a company, in case of a city all the shareholders are equally responsible for a city branding exercise forming a hybrid type of organization. “What is required is a partnership where all of the key stakeholders regard each other as equals, regardless of their power or resources, where their individual contributions are valued because, without them, the city will not realize its full potential.”

Another important characteristic of leadership is that the leadership should be shared in nature, because a partnership can be created but an effective execution requires the participants to take care of their own agendas along with a collective decision making. “Shared leadership in a brand partnership requires a far greater degree of common understanding and joint thinking than traditional forms of leadership in the public and private sectors.” All the partners should be keen, eager and willing to work together. A city branding exercise is a collective wisdom which is driven by team work. The author points out that there may be various conflicts of interest, opinions, timing issues, etc. However, the stakeholders need to work together irrespective.

At this point the author introduces the concept of a ‘Brand Management Organization', where he illustrates that the role of a Brand Organization is to devise a clear cut branding strategy for the city, i.e. policy changes, re-look at the concerned areas, investment, city attraction strategies, etc.

Thus, in the area of brand management as a whole, a city branding provides the following lessons, according to the author:

  • The partnership of the stakeholders is an on-going process. Their work cannot be skewed towards anyone and it doesn't end once a strategy formulation is over.
  • The partnership is not an elitist society; newer members need to be added from time to time. The partnership needs to evolve as time changes.
  • The partnership needs to take timely reviews of the brand strategy and be fluid in making the necessary amendments from time to time.
  • The partnership cannot work in a silo. It needs to motivate the citizens of the city to work together with the brand strategy


There are three forms of strategy which exist: Business Strategy, Brand Strategy and Marketing Strategy (Gelder, The new imperatives for global branding: Strategy, Creativity and Leadership, January, 2005). The author further illustrates that the business strategy is an overall phenomenon, which further dictates the branding strategy. The branding strategy further dictates what differentiates the brand (in this case, a city) from others, what is its unique value proposition, believable, and likeable. Based on these strategies, the promotion design, pricing, delivery, etc. can be decided. To execute the branding strategies, the marketing strategy is devised. The marketing strategy according to the author is translating the brand proposition as value for the stakeholders.

As Illustrated earlier all of it revolves around leadership. The author insists that leadership is the key to the three types of strategy, which has direct implications on a successful implementation on the workforce.


Creativity as the name suggests is about ideas (Gelder, The new imperatives for global branding: Strategy, Creativity and Leadership, January, 2005). Creativity according to the author can be of two types: Thinking of existing scenarios in a different manner or coming up with completely new ideas. Creativity forms an inherent component of the entire strategy design. The author explains through the ideas of Jeff Mauzy and Richard A. Harriman, who introduce the concept of systemic creativity, which is further argued by Nicholas Ind and Cameron Watt that creativity is the fluidity within the organization which breaks down barriers.

The author illustrates that creativity is not restricted to the mere ideation process, but should be embedded in every aspect of a strategy.

“Creativity is not the same as innovation, which may be termed ‘applied creativity'. Creativity is also not the same as improvement, which may be termed ‘routine creativity'. However, both innovation and improvement require pure creativity to function”

To conclude, the author insists that one without the other is pointless. For a successful execution of a branding process, they all need to work in tandem with one another.


Kotler explains how place branding and marketing results in the overall growth of the place and value for the involved stake holders. The equation is quite simple actually, branding a place leads to attraction for the place, which leads to varied benefits as described by the flow chart below:

However, it isn't a completely upward graph. In fact, it's a growth and decline cycle (Kotler, Place Growth Dynamics, 1999). While the attractiveness of a place brings new industries, job opportunities and betters quality of life, it has its own set of implications. When more and more external industries and people come into a city it leads to increase in usage of a city's resource, which further leads to depletion, increase in costs, etc. which in turn leads to increase in taxes for the community. In addition to this, the author states that there are external damaging effects as well which are defined as ‘process coincidences'. Some examples of process coincidences are air pollution, increased crime rate, etc.

Therefore, the learning from this is that a city should be branded to gain attractiveness, which is seen directly proportional to a city's prosperity. However, the implications of such a step should be taken into account and contingency plans should be devised by the involved stakeholders and authorities in the city's branding exercise.


An Oxford dictionary definition:

Brand (noun): a trade mark, goods of a particular make: a mark of identification made with a hot iron, the iron used for this: a piece of burning or charred wood, (verb): to mark with a hot iron, or to label with a trade mark.

Varied definitions of brand exist across definitions and disciplines. However, there lies a common line of thought which implies that in its passive form a brand is an object by which an impression is formed, and hence branding is the process of forming this impression (Blackett, April 2004). This book attempts to illustrate how branding has evolved in both active and passive manner.

“The word brand comes from the Old Norse brandr, meaning to burn, and from these origins made its way into Anglo-Saxon.” This process was undertaken to differentiate ones' cattle from another. It was also realized that the farmers who took care of their cattle, hence provided much better quality were preferred and came to be identified with the marks on the cattle.

The author goes on to explain how brands have come a long way since that era. He provides examples of the Mediterranean age, Ancient Rome, the British Museum, such as: potters' marks, roman eagle, flags, to explain the concept further. The true arriving of brands took place during the industrial revolution, when the trading between countries became possible. In fact some of the brands during that time are some of the biggest brands even today: Singer sewing-machines, Coca-Cola soft drinks, Bass beer, American Express, Prudential Insurance, etc. Ever since, the 2nd world war, the world has seen real explosion in the world of brands (Blackett, April 2004).

Elements of a Brand

Brands are supposed to have some inherent features which are distinctive. Brands are intrinsically striking and that their role is to create an indelible impression (Blackett, April 2004).

Intrinsically Striking:

According to the author a brand is distinctive through a combination of factors such as, name, letters, numbers, a symbol, a signature, a shape, a slogan, a color, a particular typeface. He also adds that the name is the most important part of a brand, as it provides a universal language interface. However, the name can never be enough; it has to be complemented by other symbols, signs, logo, tagline, etc. which then derive the brands' overall philosophy. It is the repetition of these across consumers' senses which make a brand what it is. There are obviously exceptions to this rule. However, the exceptions usually only work when a brand enjoys a cult status and has a huge following of loyalists that the changes in the logo, tagline, or even the name do not affect a consumers' perceptions about the brand and they continue to relate to it

Creating an Indelible Impression:

This is the age of high competition and high variety, the author notes. Therefore, the need to differentiate oneself from another becomes of primary importance. Since the consumer is flooded with choice, the brand needs to create an impression which is long lasting and captivating for a consumer to sit up and notice. The brand needs to function in a manner such that it creates a route map in the consumers' mind making it an obvious choice amongst the clutter. This loosely translated implies that the consumer needn't be aware about the industry, i.e. the brand just needs to offer a value proposition interesting enough for the consumer to pick it above others.

The author also adds that the successful brands are those, which create equity for the consumer, meets the expectations of the consumer and keep the promise they have made (Blackett, April 2004).
Brands as Business Assets and Explosion of Branding

Blackett further explains that this age expects brands to be assets to a company. Brands, with their ability to secure income, can be classed as productive assets (Blackett, April 2004) in exactly the same way as any other, more traditional assets of a business (plant, equipment, cash, investments and so on).

Needless to say that the brands which result in high earnings for the business have direct implications on the overall performance of the business and also results in positive shareholder value for the stakeholders.

As the world is moving further, more and more corporations are fighting for the same space. Also, it has moved beyond products. In this age, products are branded, corporations are branded, and literally everything is branded.

Guideline for good brand management

The author explains that if a brand wants to be truly successful, there are certain guru mantras which need to be incorporated in all brands across categories:

  • Protection of the Brand: This essentially means patenting or trade-marking a brand and its' complementing characteristics', such as, logo, name, colors, etc.
  • Honoring the Stakeholders: Each brand should identify who are the stakeholders and work in an efficient manner for all of them, whether it's the employees, the consumers, the shareholders or partners.
  • Treating the Brand as an Investment Tool and not Cost: Brand owners need to realize that unless branding is viewed as an investment which brings results, appropriate actions will never be taken and true profitability will never be achieved. Hence, the school of thought which treats branding activities as cost needs to be discarded.
  • Exploiting the Financial Potential of a Brand: Branding these days goes beyond a company's premise. Therefore, it is important for the brand owners to look for and tap opportunities where a brand's equity can be maximized. Some examples which the author provides are co-branding, licensing, franchising, training, etc.


Brands have sometimes been subjected to a lot of criticism from an array of industries (Gelder, Brand versus Concept in Area Development, July, 2008). Due to association of brands with advertising and marketing phenomenon various industries and professionals find it difficult to accept ‘branding', while are willing to apply ‘concept' to their line of thinking.

The author attempts to compare and contrast ‘Concept'' and ‘Brands'. According to him, while the two are often used interchangeably, the key difference between the two is the applicability period. He says that while a ‘concept' is a unique idea for a specific target group, it usually has an end date. A brand on the other hand, is a promise of value that must be kept for different audiences simultaneously, such as residents, visitors, businesses, investors and institutions. Essentially, brands are not short term; they form the underlying philosophy which is applicable across segments and time periods. Also, while a concept's value proposition decreases with time, in case of a brand, it increases with time.

However, he suggests that there is no reason why the two should not complement each other. Particularly, in the area development, place branding process, the two should truly work in tandem with one another. If used in conjunction, the two result in benefits for both. The author further illustrates with an example: A concept such as a designer hotel, a slow food restaurant, an organic market, shared facilities for creative start-ups, an ecological district, a culture institution or a factory outlet centre, etc. can help realize the brand.


With Nations, Cities, Places and Areas realizing the perils of branding themselves, branding of places is becoming a popular phenomenon, particularly in European areas. The question is whether the laws and rules of branding can be imitated for places, especially with the restricted flexibility a place offers in comparison to a product or service (Riezebos, 2007). The author attempts to solve this issue by focusing on Brand Architecture, Positioning and Organizational Structure of a City Brand.

Place branding as defined by the author is a concept of umbrella branding which a term used for branding different geographical locations. He also distinguishes between city branding and city marketing, the principle difference being that marketing uses the consumer preferences as a guiding principle, while branding defines the vision which the company plans to achieve (Riezebos, 2007). In this journal, the author focuses on the term ‘city branding' to disseminate the applicability of the concept as a genuine principle.

Using examples of New York, Barcelona and Rotterdam, the author derives Brand Architecture, Positioning and Organization Structure in the following ways (Riezebos, 2007):
Brand Architecture:

- From which level, i.e. country, region, city, borough or area of operations should one communicate from and for which target group? He adds that the first step to create brand architecture is identifying the target group, which in the case of a city is living, working and staying.

o People who come under the ‘living' category constitute of people who live there currently and people who might live there.

o People who come under the ‘working' category are not the people who come to a city to work, instead constitute of entrepreneurs who create new employment opportunities.

o People, who come under the ‘staying' category, are essentially the spin off effect it has for the inhabitants by tourists who visit, when they pay for things for their stay - food, accommodation, etc.

In terms of relevance for devising a brand plan for a city, the idea is to keep in mind the relevance of the offerings and value proposition for each of the target groups. He also adds that while devising the proposition for each target group, the brand architecture needs to be kept in mind. Failing to do so, will result in each level of the city (neighborhood, borough, etc.) provide their own set of offerings to the target group, which may not be in synch with the city's overall value proposition. As a result, the consumer will be confused and hence, inconsistency will not be able to form a brand for the city.
Positioning: How should the brand of a city stand out?

o Unlike in the case of products, service, etc. a city usually holds their own set of experiences for the consumer. Therefore, the positioning needs to be in sync with the delivery capabilities of the city, otherwise, the city's value proposition will fall flat. He also adds that positioning need not be of a positive tone, i.e. a negative city cannot present itself as a positive city. However, this does not imply that negative cities cannot brand themselves. A city can use its negative properties to brand itself as well. An example is the way Texas used its mosquitoes plague problem by starting the annual mosquito's festival.

The author adds that a city should include the two key aspects in its' branding:

1. Distinct positioning and differentiating factors

2. Targeted institution of sales activities such that sales activities are tied to certain activities with the city
Organization Structure: What is a good structure for the management of a city?

o Since there are a number of parties which influence the management of a city, all the involved parties need to work in the below defined structure:

According to this structure, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) occupies the most central position (Riezebos, 2007). CMO or the Project Organization takes care of all the marketing, sales and promotional activities of all the target groups. The CMO then reports its activities to the relevant authorities or the City Brand Board (CBB). Usually the CBB consists of researchers, experts on branding and communication, appointed on a revolving term basis. The CBB then reports to the Supervisory Board, which usually includes the Mayor, certain CEOs or heads of companies and institutions.

According to the author, this type of an organization structure has the following advantages:

1. Centralization of Brand Related Activities

2. Clear Separation of Execution, Strategy and Top Ranking Ambassadors

He insists that these three points should be the guiding principle for drafting a branding plan for any city.


In a city branding exercise, there are certain types of communications which drive the image of a city (Kavaratizis, 2004).

The author implies through this model that the primary target of a city is its inhabitants, and that the beginning and the end point of a city branding is the same, i.e. a city's image. Needless to say that a city always has an image, irrespective of any marketing/branding efforts dedicated to it.

He identifies three main methods of communication, in terms of primary, secondary and tertiary:
Primary Communication for City Branding:

- The primary communication revolves around the communicative effects taken by the city, which are defined by 4 types of actions:

o Landscape: Essentially the outer appearance of the city, its design, architectural pieces, places of art, etc.

o Infrastructure: Essentially the accessibility of the city, i.e. roads, transport facilities, conference halls, etc.

o Organization: Essentially the marketing efforts of the city's authorities and how they involve the inhabitants in the decision making process

o Behavior: Essentially the services available and provided in the city, events and investment patterns of the city
Secondary Communication for City Branding:

- The secondary communication is the planned and intended communication by the city authorities, in forms of both ATL[1] and BTL[2]. It revolves around what content is being communicated and what is the communication capability of the city authorities
Tertiary Communication for City Branding:

- The tertiary communication is derived from word-of-mouth advertising usually created by media, competing cities, visitors, etc.

The author reflects that while the first two forms of communications are largely positive in nature as they are controlled and are of top-down structure. However, it is the third form of communication (Kavaratizis, 2004), which leads to maximum brand salience, making the inhabitants of the city as the chief marketers for the city.


According to Philip Kotler, there are various levels to place marketing, which is a combination of target markets, marketing factors and planning groups.

Target markets comprise of the certain chosen segments and the customers to whom the marketing messages are directed at. Marketing factors are essentially the attraction of the place, its infrastructure, the people, its perceived image the quality of life enjoyed by the inhabitants. The planning group is the number of stakeholders who decide and implement the process of place marketing (Kotler, Levels of Place Marketing, 2002).

The author further adds that creation of a marketing process creates certain value for the consumer which involves creation of appropriate infrastructure for satisfaction of citizens and visitors, constant need for existing and new attractions which keep businesses and visitors interested, clear communication of its benefits and distinction, generation of support from citizens, government authorities, companies, and institutions.


The process of place marketing usually begins with the strategic analysis of a place, which involves its strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats (Ashworth & Voogd, 1994).

The author points out that in case of place marketing, the elements involved need to be treated differently than marketing of products and services. He explains that each element can be sold separately or as a bundled product in case of place marketing. In addition to this a place is a single entity; however, it can be sold over and over again. The producers of a place product can be many, and the consumers are free to choose the product's use for varied purposes. The price of a place product is indirect and non-monetary. The marketing of a place is not restricted to traditional advertising and promotion. A place can improve its liveability, visibility and investibility to market itself (Ashworth & Voogd, 1994). There are four main characteristics of a place, which differentiate it from others; place as a character, as a fixed environment, as a service provider and as entertainment and recreation (Rainisto, Success Factors of Place Marketing: A study of place marketing practices in Northern Europe and the United States, 2003/2004).

It is important to understand that the process of place marketing is a cyclical process, which goes on to infinity (Matlovičová, 2007) as explained in the model below:

According to the author, the process of place marketing begins with acceptance of the marketing concept for the city, which is developed into a vision and a long term plan, at this stage of the process the greatest driving factor is ‘Motivation'. “The initiator must be able to persuade the relevant place opinion leaders about the importance of marketing for the place in question and have them as participants-multiplicators in the suggested process”.

The next step is creation of a Marketing information system, where the information available in secondary sources and primary sources is analyzed, which helps develop the profile of the place based on Identity, brand and image of place (Matlovičová, 2007), as the author explains through the diagram below:

The author explains that creation of a place profile is dependent on the semantic differential between the current image and derived image of the city, which can be concluded through a ‘public perceptions survey'.

Once the profile of a place a created, one needs to conduct a detailed SWOT analysis of the place. The author explains that the SWOT analysis of a place needs to focus on three main areas, which are delimitation of the place, analysis of internal factors of the place (natural environment, demography, economy, infrastructure and business environment) and analysis of external factors (microenvironment and macroenvironment). The combination of a marketing information system, the difference between the current image of the place and the desired image of the place and finally a detailed SWOT analysis helps in formation of a strategy for further marketing of the place.

Once, these three steps are covered, a key enabler for further progess is the segmentation of the market, which completes the sub-process called ‘Situation Analysis'.

At this point, the ‘Goals' are decided for the process of place marketing, targeting also takes place at this stage.

Based on the goals, a ‘Strategy is Designed', which involves positioning of the city, devising the marketing mix, scheduling inspections, zeroing in on the marketing budget, and inking the overall marketing plan.

The author has developed a model for a clear segmentation of a city, as explained below:

The author explains through Kotlers' suggested methodology for segmentation, and points out that there is not unique way to segment, which becomes even more difficult in the case of a city due to the heterogeneity attached to the single product. He uses the classification of segmentation criterion and applies it to the city: Geographic, Demographics, Psychographics, and Behavioral.

“A successful strategy will result from a detailed and systematic analysis that will respond the two fundamental questions: where is the place situated? and how did it get there? The following comparison of the whole spectrum of data and information will reveal the trends that have to be taken into account in setting the marketing goal. The essence of the conception and strategic stage could be summarized in the two questions: where does the place want to get in future? and how can it be achieved?” (Matlovičová, 2007)

After a clear segmentation, this can be of two types, concentrated and differentiated. The key is that a city needs to decide which of the two segmentation strategies it goes with. In plain terms, this means that if the city chooses a concentrated segmentation strategy, it focuses on a micro segment and devises a value proposition for that segment. However, since a city has the capability to be multi-sold, the city can be marketed to a bunch of segments with differentiated value propositions. The problem with using the second approach is that it is not cost effective. Since a city has limited resources at its disposal, the choice between the two strategies decides the entire marketing plan and its implications for the city

Positioning of a city starts after a target segment is clearly identified. This is the point, where the city declares its position to the market. The author suggests use of a ‘positioning map' as a tool to devise a city's position vis-à-vis its competitors. He explains that there can be two types of positioning for a city, authentic differentiation and non-authentic differentiation. Authentic differentiation focuses on a multitude of sub-products, while Non-authentic differentiation focuses on the product as a single unit. Both the strategies have their own set of flaws and advantages.

In context of a city, the marketing mix is a combination of Place, Product, People, Process, Promotion and Price.

The author explains that in context of a city, the description of the product is more complex, since there is no produced product; it is merely the cities offerings for different types of consumers. The key is to package it well that it appears attractive to the consumer. Price is defined as the financial requirement for getting the product. It is a direct reflection of the quality and condition of the place. Place in this context implies the environment where distribution of the product takes place. This loosely means its physical evidence (Matlovičová, 2007) and its localization within a wider context (availability, infrastructure level, character of natural environment, etc.).

Promotion is an important part of the circle, as the place's offerings may be very attractive, but it needs to inform the targeted consumers of those value propositions. Promotion, therefore, entails public relations (PR) (communications with the public) advertising, sales promotion and personal communications.

People in case of place marketing/branding form the core of the process, who can be broadly divided into staff members, customers and partners; within the staff members category, they can be further sub-divided as follows (Matlovičová, 2007):

  • contact staff who have frequent contacts with customers and who have to be well-trained and motivated to solve problems,
  • modifiers do not take part directly in marketing activities but from time to time they communicate with customers (receptionists, information desk staff, secretaries, etc.) and
  • influencers similarly to modifiers' occasionally communicate with customers but they take an active part in production of marketing strategy of a municipal unit; they are mainly municipal authorities who negotiate with a potential investor, etc.

Finally, Process in case of city branding/marketing literally means the exact procedure for distribution of the place, individual subjects and surroundings such as, companies, government agencies, citizens, etc. Politics has deep implications in the process of marketing a city. Therefore, lobbying is a suggested tool in the marketing mix for a city.

The last stage of the process is ‘Implementation' of the strategy, which further requires managing and auditing. This is the end of the first cycle, however, not the end of the process.

Based on the progress after the audit the 2nd cycle begins, and it goes on and on. The reasons for this is that the environment of the city, and world over changes constantly. A city to be a good product and a brand needs to re-invent itself with the changing scenarios (Matlovičová, 2007).


Marketing of places is conducted at two main levels, which is strategic and operational in nature (Kotler, Place Marketing Strategy, 2002). According to Kotler, place marketing typically takes place in four broad environments:

The author measures the success of place marketing on two axes, ‘Strategic Ability' and ‘Implementation Ability'. Depending on how high or low a place's marketing efforts lie on the two axes, the marketing strategy can be assessed.

  • When a place falls low on both strategic and implementation ability, it is called ‘the loser', broadly implying that the place lacks the capacity to strategize or implement the marketing plan successfully
  • On the opposite end of the axes, lie ‘the expanders' who rank high on both strategic and implementation ability. This implies that the place has a well defined long term strategy and the accompanying plan of action in place
  • ‘the frustrators' rank high on strategic ability, but have low implementation capacity, rendering the strategy aspect futile for the place
  • ‘the gamblers' rank low on their strategic ability, but have high implementation capacity, which can result in short term success depending on the environment and timing for the place

According to the author, a balance of strategy and implementation is the key to a successful place marketing process. The stakeholders need to identify the current position of the place, and devise a plan to work on implementation or strategy, whichever is required to gain long term success.

The stakeholders or planners in a city's strategic marketing plan comprise of local, regional, national and international players (Kotler, Major Actors in a Place Marketing Process, 1999). The people who make the list at each level of players is following:

Local Players:

- Public Sector Actors:

o Mayor/City Manager

o Business Development Department in the Community

o Urban Development Planning Department in the Community (Transport, Education, Sanitation, etc.)

o Tourist Bureau

o Conventions Bureau

o Public Information Bureau

- Private Sector Actors:

o Individual Citizens

o Leading Enterprises

o Real Estate Developers and Agents

o Financial Institutions (Banks and Insurance Companies

o Electricity and Gas Utilities

o Telecommunication Companies

o Chambers of Commerce and Other Local Business Organizations

o Hospitality and Retail Industries (Hotels, Restaurants, Department Stores, Retailers, Exhibition and Convention Centers)

o Travel Agencies

o Labor Market Organizations

o Architects

o Transport Companies (Taxi, Railway, Train, Airlines, etc.)

o Media Companies
Regional Players

- Regional Economic Development Agencies

- Local and State Government

- Regional Tourist Boards
National players

- Political Heads of the Government

- Inward Investment Agencies

- National Tourist Boards
International players

- Embassies and Consulates

- Inward Investment Agencies

- Economic Development Agencies with a specific link to a city or a region

- International Enterprises with a place bound link

The author adds that a successful place marketing strategy demands that all the players are addressed and involved in the process. He refers to the concept of ‘cross marketing', essentially implying that there exist links between all the players, and they are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, the strategy formulation should market to and among the players.


For a successful place marketing technique, a general framework renders useful. A total of nine factors for result oriented place marketing have been rendered imperative (Rainisto, Success Factors in Place Marketing, 2003/2004), as explained by the diagram below:

  • Planning Group
  • Vision and Strategic Analysis
  • Place Identity and Place Image
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Political Unity
  • Global Marketplace
  • Local Development
  • Process Coincidences
  • Leadership

According to the author, in a successful place marketing technique, the success factors need to be linked with the practices, which are Events in the place marketing practices, Events in the network and Events in the macroenvironment. The two needs to be co-related in order to measure success or failure of the marketing process.

He further explains that the factors inside the prism, in the above represent ‘self action' factors, while the factors outside the prism in the circle represent the environmental challenges.

The place marketing practices are mainly coordinated by the management team who is responsible for the execution of the place marketing process. The nine success factors determine why place marketing is successful for unsuccessful? The impact of each of the factors is explained below:

Planning Group:

According to the author, the planning group is responsible for the execution of the place marketing process. It usually consists of local and government authorities, external consultants, and industry professionals (Rainisto, Success Factors in Place Marketing, 2003/2004). As a part of the job description, the planning group identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the city, and develops a long term strategic plan of action, implementable for 10-15 years. The planning group also devises the vision and strategic outlook of the place being marketed.

Vision and Strategic Analysis

This factor identifies a clear vision for the city, which means Vision in place marketing is the profound intuition and insight of the place about its future long-term position in the place market. Mission is the basic task domain of a place, defining the utmost ground for the place existence. (Rainisto 2000b) (Rainisto, Success Factors in Place Marketing, 2003/2004).

Strategy means the way in which an organization takes care of its core tasks. Strategic analysis is a detailed examination of the elements of strategic information for this purpose. (Rainisto 2000b) (Rainisto, Success Factors in Place Marketing, 2003/2004)

The author enunciates that formation of the vision and the accompanied strategic analysis is important for a successful place marketing strategy. He also proposes a check list for formation of the vision:

- The desired outcome should be decided upon, and the vision should be drafted in collaboration with all the stakeholders.

o The strategies should be devised for both the short term and the long term

- After understanding the strengths and weakness of the city, the attractions (the hard and the soft factors) for the city should be identified

- The customers for the place should be defined

- Adaptation of the product (place) as per the needs of the consumer

- A competitive analysis must be conducted

- The Unique Selling Proposition for the city should be identified

Place Identity and Place Image

A successful place marketing strategy takes both ends of the perspectives into account. The place identity is what the place wants to depict to the consumer, through focusing on certain types of attractions, using appropriate promotional strategies and the marketing logos along with it; while, the place image is the sum of experiences and beliefs that the consumer has with the place developing its image over time. He further adds that the branding exercise has an impact on image building for the place, but a systematic marketing communication to the target group leads to real experiences, making the image closer to the identity.

Public-Private Partnerships

Public-Private partnerships are critical to a successful execution of the marketing strategy. The author specifies that if the government and the industry work in tandem with each other, it paves the way for a futuristic city branding and marketing process.

The advantages of a public-private partnership are lowering of costs, combined development of facilities in the city, entrepreneurial thinking, etc.

Political Unity

Since there are a number of stakeholders and decision makers in the place marketing process, it is important that they operate in a unified manner. Political Unity means agreement about public affairs in general among the political decision maker (Rainisto, Success Factors of Place Marketing: A study of place marketing practices in Northern Europe and the United States, 2003/2004).

Therefore, there cannot be fight for power between the stakeholders, they need to operate in conjunction with each other for achieve efficiency for the strategy.

Global Marketplace and Local Development

Global Marketplace and Local Development implies the internal and external environment affecting the marketing process for a city. Since, the advent of globalization, the city needs to be aware of its external environment, its competition and advances in the completion. It needs to network, communicate the right marketing messages, and form a global approach to the consumer. At the same time, internally the city needs to develop the facilities, and improve its offerings to the consumer

Process Coincidences

Process Coincidences are defined as the remarkable concurrences of events, which apparently by chance, which take place during the process (Rainisto, Success Factors of Place Marketing: A study of place marketing practices in Northern Europe and the United States, 2003/2004). These coincidences are externalities which may not appear in the plan of long term strategy. Therefore, it is required that while a strategy plan is being devised the probability of positive and negative externalities is accounted for and contingency plans are put in place, as per the author.


Leadership is considered the most important factor to the success of place marketing. The leadership should keep in mind the identity of the place and work towards using the available resources in the best way possible to communicate the brand of the city. Therefore, a good leadership should be supportive, motivational and well versed with the consumers' expectations and desires from the place.


It is evident from the literature review, that city branding and place marketing are being practiced by cities as an accepted value proposition now. The difference being that some cities make a strategic choice to brand themselves, while some branding activities are momentary and not aligned to a single point agenda.

Various theoretical models have been explored to decipher an encompassing method to brand cities. Step by step procedures, possible pitfalls and crucial success determinants have been identified.

The literature review provides a general framework which can be applicable across different types of branding exercises for cities and suggests a checklist to be kept in mind. Using the findings of literature review, a further study can be conducted to validate and map the current branding of Delhi and determine its success from both the industry and the consumer point of view.


There are a plethora of models available defining the theory for the city branding or a place marketing process. However, most of the work done in this area concentrates on the developed world. In South Asia, particularly, no clear or distinctive work has been done in the area of city branding. Therefore there exists a clear knowledge gap for city branding in Asia, particularly in India.

This dissertation attempts to review the branding efforts for places across the world, and apply the learning to India. Taking the case study of Delhi 2010, the research will try to map it against the developed models for city branding, understand the semantic difference between the current image and desired image of the city, identify the stakeholders involved, evaluate the existing branding efforts by the city, analyze the need-gap and finally, recommend changes/adaptations for a better branding process for Delhi.


Since there is a very little research done on the subject of Branding of Cities in India, the industry and the phenomena is a very nascent stage. Therefore, the research undertaken will be exploratory in nature.

The research attempts to unravel the following main objectives:

Objective 1: to understand the process of place marketing and city branding, the accepted models, theories, CRITISICM, and live examples.

Objective 2: to explore how the associations can be utilized for leveraging marketing activities, in lieu of commonwealth delhi2010

Objective 3: to develop branding possibilities for delhi


The study will be conducted in three main phases, as explained by the diagram below.

The research will be conducted in two main phases:

Secondary Research

This stage will be useful in providing a defined framework for the primary research stage. The first step is conducting a detailed literature review in order to understand the varied methodology and concepts used for place marketing and branding techniques. This also helps in determining the factors which are imperative for a successful branding exercise. To substantiate the models and theory, a case study method will be employed to study the places which have been branded, how successful they have been and what were the factors behind their success or failure.

Case Study Method:

The case study method allows a contextual analysis of actual situations which validate the strength of the earlier research. This research proposal will benefit from the case study method as it will enable investigation of the research questions by providing verification and proof in multiple case settings, which can be linked with the expert interviews in the industry later to provide a holistic view into the study.

Selection Criteria for Cases:

The cases are chosen on the basis of their commonalities with the concepts explored and the application of the concepts in the cases chosen. Since, the case study method implores upon information orientation, the cases are chosen on the following three main characteristics:

- Successful City Branding:

o New York

o London

- Unique City Branding:

o Singapore

- Failed City Branding:

o Berlin

o Rochester

Primary Research

This phase will attempt to cover the industry and consumer side perspective to provide a wholesome outcome to the study.

industry Perspective:

This will involve interviews with the professionals who have worked in the field of city branding exercises in the industry. In depth interviews will be conducted in light of the research objectives to garner the current industry positioning, gaps in the system, need for improvement, trends and expected evolution.

Total Number of Expert Interviews Proposed: 5

Consumer Side Perspective:

In-depth interviews will be conducted with the target segment for Delhi as a branded city, in the lieu of Games 2010. The interviews will attempt to understand the current perceptions, imagery, expectations, and impact for a branding exercise for Delhi in accordance with the research objectives. The target segment of consumers has been divided into three main segments:

- Living: Inhabitants of the City and The Creative Class

- Working: Entrepreneurs who create jobs in the city, People who come to work

- Staying: Tourists who come to the city for varied purposes

No. of Years Spent in Delhi



Living (5-10yrs)



Working (2-5yrs)



Staying (0-1yrs)



These in-depth interviews will be conducted at the natural habitat and surroundings of the respondents, and will attempt to cover various touch points for the brand Delhi. Observational research will be conducted at Airports, Hotels, Offices, etc.

Under each of the heads mentioned, the classification is described as follows:

- Living (5-10yrs): Old timers of Delhi who have seen the progress and development of the city. This will include elderly people, housewives, students who have studied for the most part in Delhi or were born and brought up in Delhi

- Working (2-5yrs): Non-natives of Delhi, who have migrated from other cities to find employment or have been transferred to the city in order to see comparability

- Staying (0-1yrs): Tourists, Exchange students, Expatriates, etc. who form immediate perceptions on the basis of experiencing the city.

Rationale for In-depth Interviews:

In-depth interviews have been chosen for both the respondent types due to:

  1. Niche and specialized subject matter
  2. Information sought is detailed in nature
  3. Allows for face-to-face contact with the respondents
  4. Allows for space to clarify/modify questions enabling relevant and useful responses
  5. Provides an opportunity to uncover deeper, non documented details

Sampling Plan

Sampling Universe (Proposed):

- Industry Perspective: Industry Experts, Delhi Government Officials, Common Wealth Games 2010 Marketing Head, etc,

- Consumer Perspective: Citizens of Delhi, Tourists to Delhi, Working Professionals in Delhi, Students in Delhi, etc.

Sampling Technique:

- Purposive and Snowballing sampling

Sampling Unit:

- Individual

Purposive Sampling technique is proposed to identify the subjects for interviews. It is suggested as the identification can be based on the interest of the subject or the relevant experience in the industry. Snowballing is suggested in order to generate leads from the subjects contacted by using their social and professional networks. Since, this is a referral based method, it allows for more credibility in the interviewer and allows for better quality results and success rates.

The choice of purposive sampling is due to the following factors:

  • Ability to choose respondents on the basis of their interest, therefore high knowledge in the area is useful for the type of research undertaken
  • Data collected for the study benefits the respondents for their further research into the topic
  • Economical and Convenient

Branded Cities: Case Studies

A city can be branded on a variety of attributes, as suggested by the marketing experts of place branding. While studying cases of branded cities, the focus is on the following attributes:

- What's the city's story?

o The History & Heritage of the City

- What is attractive in the city?

o The Value Proposition

- Nickname for the City

o Slangs, Terms of Endearment for the City

- Branding Efforts

o Conscious efforts by the government, agencies, industries for improving the image of the city

- The Demographic Make-up

o Population, Statistics

- The Economical Scenario and Tourism to the City

- What's a City without its People?

- What does the city want to communicate & what does it communicate?

New York

The Story of New York

Verrazano reached New York in 1524, after which Henry Hudson explored the Hudson River in 1609. It is believed that the Dutch settled in New York in 1624, and ruled the city for 40 years while it was called New Amsterdam. The city was renamed to New York, when the English conquered it in 1664 in the honor of the Duke of York.

The city declared independence on July 9, 1776 and saw its first government in the year 1777. Two years later, the New York city became the capital of the state of New York (Development, 2007).

Attractions of the City: The Value Proposition

The New York, as we know today has its roots in the economic trade, as New York was an important port in the world's development history. Therefore places such as the United Nations building, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Centre, MET form an important pull to the state of New York (Winfield-Pfefferkorn, August 2005). In addition to this, the city of New York also has a rich history and the other attractions to the city are the Statue of Liberty, the Hudson Valley, the Museum of Modern Art, SoHo and Times Square. It is the mix of capitalism's capital and its grandiose history that makes New York amongst the most popular cities of the world, and helps develop its positioning statement.

New York has over 98 nicknames to its credit, as per some bloggers and residents of the city. Big Apple (popularized by the African American musicians in the 1930s, there exists a popular hit called the Big Apple, 1937) being the most common one (How New York got its Nickname, 2002), New York is also known as the Empire City (State Symbols USA) as quoted by George Washington in 1784, when he referred to the city as “at present the seat of the Empire”. Some of the other nicknames for the city comprise of Father Knickerboxer (inspired by the trousers which the Dutch settlers used to wear), Gotham (Washington Irving referred to New York as Gotham in Salmagundi Papers in 1807), The Babyonian Bedlam (Genesis XI, describes it as per the confusion of tongues in Babel), amongst others (The Big Apple).

Branding Efforts

The popular tagline “I Love NY” was developed by the Ad Agency Wells, Rich and Greene in collaboration with Milton Gaser (a graphic artist). The agency was employed by the state of New York to promote tourism to the city in the year 1970.

This slogan was highly successful in creating an emotional ‘connect' with the brand New York. It is now the official slogan for the state of New York and has crept into merchandise, promotional material etc. for the city

.Branding efforts for New York were a strategic plan as followed by the government, and then followed the citizens of the city, further metamorphosed by the institutions and corporations in the state of New York. Due to this, the brand New York's communication has been consistent and effective through the years.

The Demographic Make-up

The state of New York currently has a population base of 19,306,183 people (Fact Finder). The city has maintained a relatively decent population base over years. However, according to Julia Winfield-Pfefferkorn, the city faced a huge loss of lives during the 1970s - 1980s due to increasing crime rate at the subways.

This led to loss of face and brand for the city, until the government officials identified the problem of uncontrollable crime in the ‘broken windows' theory, which dictates that if a building has broken windows then the passerby believes lack of care and breaks more windows.

Drawing parallels to the subways crime rate, the government agencies took corrective steps and painted all graffiti around the platforms, reworked the trains and made sure that all trains always look clean and well managed. This resulted in a surprising decrease in the crime rate and New York was able to combat the crime to a great extent, which led to building of a stronger brand of New York in the minds of the people.

The Economic Scenario and Tourism to the City

According to the NYC Statistics board, the New York City attracts approximately 47 Million tourists per year, as of 2008. Figuring amongst the top tourist destinations, the city earns huge revenue through tourism (NYC). However, tourism forms a fairly small segment in the functioning of NYC economy. In terms of other revenue options, New York has experienced a surge in event marketing as a phenomenon. According to the statistics, the event marketing and sponsorships bring approximately 15 Billion USDs, which is a large sum contribution to the revenue chain. These two avenues are important from the context of branding, as they are direct results of a well marketed city.

However, it is important to remember that tourism is quite fragile in nature, as crime rates, terrorism, etc. have a dominoes effect on the trade, as it happened in the case of NYC with September 11. However, careful planning and strategic marketing techniques can lower the impact of such occurrences.

What is a City without its People?[3]

New York stands for a cosmopolitan lifestyle. New Yorkers take great pride in their belonging to the city. As in the case of city as a product, the people play a far greater role in building the brand attributes of the city. The people of New York have given as much back to the city, as much the city has given to them (Winfield-Pfefferkorn, August 2005). In fact, the residents of New York, endorse the brand New York as loyal consumers through word of mouth activities, wearing merchandise and overall spreading a good word about the city.

What does the city want to communicate?

New York embodies a luxury brand as it has all the right ingredients. Every city competes with some cities in order to give out a clear branding communication. In case of New York, it competes with cities such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Kansas City, etc. who according to the mayor of NYC employ much bigger marketing budgets. The key is that New York communicates to its audience is that it's a city of promises, a city of hope and city of dreams.


The Story of Paris

The history of Paris dates back to the 3rd century B.C. With almost 2,000 years of heritage, Paris has deep connections to its name. Originally a fishing village with a settlement of Parisii tribe near a river called Ile de la Cite' (History of Paris), Paris has come a long way to become one of the fashion centers of the world today.

Paris was known as Lutetia in the ancient times, and Julius Caesar conquered in 52 B.C. and the city was an important trade centre during the Roman rule. Paris declared independence in the year 1355, under the leadership of Etienne Marcel ( Later Paris is known to have played an important part in various revolutions. During the First World War, Paris was not affected, but was captured during the Second World War.

Paris today is a city of charms, with a blend of a deep history and modern age structures.

7 Ponts - Seine River

Branding Delhi: Results of a Live Case Study

Delhi, it's origin and history

The first evidence to the city of Delhi comes from The Mahabharata, by the name Indraprastha build by Yudhistra in 1400 BC (Delhi, Where Every Stone has a Story to Tell, 2002-2003). Legend believes that Delhi derives its name from Raja Dhilu, around 1st century BC, who built a city near the current location of Qutub Minar after his name.

Delhi has a rich cultural heritage and has seen the rise and fall of many empires. It is believed that the geographical location of Delhi has been the key factor in it being in the seat of power (History of Delhi). Delhi is a combination of a seven ancient cities, ruled by different empires at different times:

It is believed that the city first came into existence in the 13th century by Anagpal Tomar. Which set the foundation for the seven cities of Delhi called Lal Kot. Lal Kot was conquered by the Chauhan clan, where Prithvi Raj Chauhan built and extended the city to be called Quila Rai Pithora.

In 1191 AD, the city was invaded by Muhammad Ghuri, who ruled the city till 1206 AD. Invaded by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, Delhi saw the beginning of the Slave Dynasty, which lasted from 1211-1227. The Qutub Minar was built during this period.

This was followed by the Khilji Dynasty from 1296-1316, ruled by Allauddin Khilji, who made the Siri Fort and called the city Siri. Siri was conquered by the Tughlaqs in 1308 AD and ruled by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. This began the Tughlaq dynasty and the formation of a city called Tughlaqabad. During the Tughlaq dynasty, Mohammed bin Tughlaq built the fourth city of Delhi between Siri and Tughlaqabad and named it Jahanpanah, i

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