Chapter 11: Branding Hoxton: Cultural Landscapes of Post-industrial London
Andrew Harris INTRODUCTION London is one of the foremost centres in the world for creating new brands. Its advertising and public relations industries, including companies such as the communications services group WPP and the brand consultancy Wolff Olins, spawn branding and place marketing strategies that circulate globally. Various localities such as Notting Hill, Chelsea and Brick Lane, as well as London itself, enjoy an international profile equivalent to leading branded products and services. Moreover, the award of the 2012 Olympics to London rather than Paris was arguably facilitated by a more sophisticated marketing and branding of the city. Yet it is often unclear how these brands are created, developed and promoted, and what their relationship is to the spaces and places from which they emerge. This chapter investigates some of the complex and geographically specific social and cultural worlds in which London’s recent ‘brandscapes’ have been forged. It will detail how a distinct new urban brand was established during the 1990s around Hoxton, a formerly down-at-heel inner-city district, by a group of creative entrepreneurs and artists. The chapter will argue, however, that the successful brand they fashioned failed to acknowledge and challenge the incipient gentrification of the area, and proved highly conducive to property developers. The Hoxton case-study is an example of how urban branding often not only promotes new forms of economic activity but also involves new forms of spatial capture and control in the post-industrial city. CITIES AND BRANDING The use of branding to communicate essential features of...
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