Branding European Cities and Regions
Edited by Gregory Ashworth and Mihalis Kavaratzis
Chapter 2: Place Branding Theory: A Cross-domain Literature Review from a Marketing Perspective
Graham Hankinson Place branding has its origins in the literature on place promotion, which is primarily associated with the literature on urban policy, a domain of study that has attracted researchers from a variety of academic areas including geographers, sociologists, anthropologists and regional economists. For several reasons this literature has largely developed separately from mainstream marketing literature; indeed, a significant section of this literature has been critical of place promotion as a process leading to the ‘commodification’ of places (Urry, 1990). In addition, those taking a more positive view of place promotion have regarded place branding theory as inappropriate, based as it has been on fast-moving consumer goods marketing practised by private sector organisations in contrast to place products which have largely been the responsibility of the public sector. The link with marketing has primarily been through tourism where the focus has been on places as visitor destinations, but even in this domain researchers have sought to differentiate place marketing from mainstream marketing. It is only recently that these differing perspectives are beginning to be brought together and, as a consequence, a richer and more useful theory of place branding is beginning to emerge (Hankinson, 2007). The purpose of this chapter is therefore to review the literature within the domains with an interest in place branding, namely marketing, urban policy and tourism. It will evaluate the contributions of each area of study in order to provide an overarching framework both as an aide to practitioners and as a basis for...
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