Place Branding


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Brands typically refer to products and services, but they can also represent a place, intended as a context in which people are able to generate personal experiences through physical interaction. The idea behind branding a place is to build a connection between the real world and perception that people have of it, through decisive experiences and predetermined images. The main reason is that in a globalized world, places as well as products and services, can use their identities as a competitive economic advantage over other place brands to attract investments.

Professors Robert Govers and Frank Go in their book Place Branding establish a comparison between the ‘existential’ authenticity, the real interaction, in opposition to the ‘constructed authenticity’, which is how people produce meanings that matter to them. The most relevant  appears to be the latter, the main reason is that, according to Resonance Consultancy President Chris Fair traditionally a place brand was defined by its geography and environment, while today it is defined by people’s experience and culture. For adequate matching of demand and supply, marketing this particular product bid depend all upon virtual promotion through narration and visuals, media and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) are key facilitators for promoting place brand images. An illustrative case to better understand what place making is could be represented by the ‘Greenwich Peninsula’, a particularly risky and ambitious 20 years project in a former industrial area in London.

Honk Kong- based company Knight Dragon intends to bring a singular new destination at Greenwich Peninsula, with a long-term vision project. The strategic position, between Canary Warf and O2 is an added value to this brand new city that aims to create a new hub of London entertainment environment. The team working behind co-operates extensively with each other as well as with other public and private actors, coping with different needs and focus. The project aims to be majestic, and the strong design role within it could bring it to success. On the other hand it is hard to not mention that the whole project is conceived on a contaminated area, and that it will be a completely artificial and planned city. The brand will be exposed only when target customers finally visit the place and it is hard to foresee the real customer interaction within the place. In addition, what could be alarming are the problems that another similar project is facing, the Battersea Power Station, in Nine Elms area. Since high demand and significant reduction of supply have raised prices and rents across London, the new luxury properties built in the redeveloped iconic station seem to report a superabundance of offer, caused by a depressing global economy. Furthermore, 2016 is expected to be a decisive and challenging year after the EU referendum, with a high percentage of risk involved.

As all the information passes through senses and mental structures, and brand images are located in the mind of the consumer which is influenced by the social and political situation, investors and company will have to pay particular attention to their moves. As a result, branding will have to work through a continue research of people behaviors and social changes and place making should create the identity of a place, its strategic personality and positioning between industries and investors, with a communication strategy that includes consistent narratives and constant updating. Eventually, the biggest challenge of place branding  is generating influential images and create expectations for a place that does not yet exist.


Fair,C. (2013) Place Branding: The Power of Place. Available at :/

Govers,R. & Go, F.(2009) Place Branding. Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Knight Dragon (2016) Greenwich Peninsula. Available at:


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