Policies, Practices and Positioning
Edited by Per Olof Berg and Emma Björner
Chapter 13: Catwalking the city
During the early 2000s, the concept of brand cultures was introduced in order to widen the perspective on the branding process to include the cultural dimensions of brands such as history, images, myths, etc. (Schroeder, 2009). In this chapter, I take the concept a step further, to include the ways in which people as brand builders, brand managers and even brand researchers are drawn into such cultural spheres, incorporating specific modes of thinking and acting. What happens when actors themselves become part of a brand culture, often without realizing it? The ways in which a city is made brandable in a given setting depend to a great extent on the ways in which branding is developed as a cultural frame: a way of perceiving and packaging specific aspects or elements of a city. I argue for the need for critical self-reflection here. Branding a city is not only about selecting and focusing, packaging and narrating a city; it is also done by learning to overlook and ignore. Such selective practices are often naturalized to such an extent that they become taken for granted. In this sense, branding is a process that creates cultural blinkers and a very selective view of city life. Once launched, brands can take on a life of their own, where the city or the city managers try to live up to the brand rather than the other way round.
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