April 4, 2011

Place Branding: Where is its place in Cull's Framework?

My group decided to use Nicolas Cull’s PD framework for our group paper. So I have been spending a lot of time thinking about his five components of PD, which are: listening, advocacy, cultural diplomacy, exchange diplomacy, and international broadcasting. This week’s readings, however, are about place branding.

Place branding, as defined by Peter van Ham is “an effort to manage, if not necessarily wield, the social power of a geographical location by using strategies developed in the commercial sector” (van Ham 2020, pg 136). He continues, “It is closely linked to public diplomacy since place branding tries to affect the image and perception of foreign as well as domestic communities regarding territorial entities, be they states, regions, or cities” (van Ham 2020, pg 136). One can see that each component as a part of Cull’s framework helps to “manage” and guide a state’s image. While van Ham describes a place brand as “(amongst others [things]) determined by its culture, its political ideals, and its policies”, at times it is hard to fully fit place branding into Cull’s framework (van Ham 2020, pg 137). Of course, place branding is an important part of creating an established image through icons, logos, pictures, and marketing campaigns, but that alone does not necessarily equate to state successfully managing its international environment. Simple place branding alone will not manage perceptions of a place unless there has been political, economic, and social change to legitimize the place branding. In those cases, place branding gets watered down by all of the problems with the image itself.

Spain, for instance, was able to rebrand itself after the Franco dictatorship because of its dramatic political, social, and economic change. However, now it is attempting to rebrand its tourism industry through a new “Privilege Spain” campaign. Whether it will successful, only time can tell.

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