City Branding – All Smoke, No Fire?

Abstract

Successful corporate branding requires that questions related to communication, publicity, and organizational structures are addressed. An uncritical adoption of approaches known from traditional product branding will inevitably give problems as the properties of tangible commodities and services with their relatively concrete dimensions are absent when the main question is one of values.

Furthermore, when the relatively straightforward identification and power structures of corporations and consumers are replaced by the more diversified structures of city government, their populations, and potential visitors, problems seem to multiply in what has become known as city branding.

This analysis of the communicational aspects of two Danish provincial towns’ branding efforts examines both their internally and externally directed communication. It demonstrates that an insufficient understanding of - or willingness to face - these differences will inevitably hamper such branding efforts because of the consequential inconsistencies.

Finally, paths to more effective city branding are indicated.

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