Branding European Cities and Regions
Edited by Gregory Ashworth and Mihalis Kavaratzis
Chapter 12: Semiotics and Place Branding: The Influence of the Built and Natural Environment in City Logos
12. Semiotics and place branding: the influence of the built and natural environment in city logos Gary Warnaby and Dominic Medway INTRODUCTION Over the last 30 years, place marketing – and latterly the more overt emphasis on place branding – has become an increasingly common strategy for entrepreneurial cities, regions and countries seeking to gain some form of advantage in an ever more competitive environment. This has had significant implications for how the attractions and facilities located within such places – and indeed the places themselves as holistic entities – are communicated to potential target markets and audiences. As such, places, according to Hubbard and Hall, may be ‘constituted through a plethora of images and representations’ (1998: 7). This chapter considers place representation and branding, with particular reference to the incorporation within logos of elements of the built and natural environment associated with particular locales. Utilising concepts relating to semiotics, the chapter identifies a number of ways in which representations of particular attributes of the built and natural environment (such as buildings, bridges, coastlines, rivers etc.) are used by places seeking to create a sense of differentiation and uniqueness in their branding activities. RESEARCH CONTEXT: SEMIOTICS AND PLACE MARKETING Semiotics has been defined as, ‘the study of signs in society’ (Bignell, 1997: 5), incorporating their production, functioning and interpretation (Boklund-Lagopoulou et al., 2003). Semiotics emerged as an area of study in the early twentieth century as a response to concerns as to ‘the problematic of meaning and representation’ (Boklund-Lagopoulou et al., 2003: vii). Characterised...
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