Between branding and being: how are inclusive city branding and inclusive city practices related?

Run Zhao*, Jurian Edelenbos, Martin de Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between being an inclusive city and branding oneself as such, as more cities adopt the inclusive city concept as part of their brand identity. Design/methodology/approach: This paper builds theory by introducing a typology that categorizes cities based on their level of inclusion and degree of branding, supplemented by an analysis of the branding practices and identities. Integrating the literature on inclusive city and city branding, with a specific focus on the inherent conflict between their sharing and competing attributes, this research postulates that a city may choose to engage in being inclusive and branding itself as such in various ways depending on its dominant motivations of altruism or entrepreneurialism. Findings: Four distinct types of inclusive city branding are identified: inclusion ambassadors (high inclusion and high branding); innate champions (high inclusion and low branding); façade marketers (low inclusion and high branding); and silent segregators (low inclusion and low branding). Furthermore, it underscores that inclusive city branding is shaped by the interplay of entrepreneurialism and altruism, not just a city’s inclusion. Different branding practices, such as media-generated images, narratives and events, are emphasized when entrepreneurialism is the primary motivation, whereas iconic architecture buildings, flagship projects and long-term policies are more associated with altruism. Originality/value: This study develops a typology to unravel the paradoxical aspects of inclusive city branding. Examining the intersection of city branding motivations and practices enriches existing literature. Moreover, its findings offer valuable insights for cities grappling with the implementation of contentious inclusive branding strategies, thereby bridging theory with practical applications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Place Management and Development
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, Run Zhao, Jurian Edelenbos and Martin de Jong.

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