Policies, Practices and Positioning
Edited by Per Olof Berg and Emma Björner
Chapter 12: Open sourcing the city brand
This chapter tells the story of why and how the city branding process of an Austrian city, Graz, was open sourced. Open sourcing was used as a novel way to coordinate collective action. Rather than relying on the brand manager and external agencies to create and control the city brand, it was conceptualised as the sum total of the stories told by consumers (including citizens, tourists, businesses etc.). In contrast to branding practices that define a unique proposition vis-a-vis rival cities in an imaginary competitive landscape, open sourcing the brand created consistency through a shared storytelling style. Metaphorically speaking, artists may change their subjects, but how they paint shines through in their different works, similar to a family resemblance. Hence, style allows for plurality and consistency at the same time. Open sourcing the brand also changed the task of the brand manager, turning it into a second order form of governance focused on platform and interaction design as well as the growth of networks around the open source brand. This chapter makes a twofold contribution. First, it seeks to enrich the theoretical reflections on (city) branding and brand management by introducing the concept of open sourcing the brand. While a plethora of marketing and branding studies have focused on the productive capacity of consumers, only a few researchers have systematically explored the consequences of co-creation for brand management (Hatch and Schultz, 2010; Iglesias and Bonet, 2012; Ind et al., 2013).
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