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Gregory Ashworth

The Instruments of Place Branding: How is it Done?

Place branding is the idea of discovering or creating some uniqueness, which differentiates one place from others in order to gain a competitive brand value. This article is not about the concepts or justifications but about how it is actually done at the local level, especially as part of broader conventional place management policies. Three main local planning instruments are widely used throughout the world in various combination in diverse places, each of which is described and exemplified here. These are first, personality association, where places associate themselves with a named individual, from history, literature, the arts, politics, entertainment, sport or even mythology, in the hope that the necessarily unique qualities of the individual are transferred by association to the place. Secondly, the visual qualities of buildings and urban design is an instrument of place-branding available to local planners. This could include flagship building, signature urban design and even signature districts. Thirdly, event hallmarking is where places organise events, usually cultural or sporting, in order to obtain a wider recognition that they exist but also to establish specific brand associations. Lessons are drawn from practice about the importance of combining these instruments and integrating them into wider planning and management strategies.