City branding as a strategic management tool for local governments to promote smart and creative urban development is the primary research interest of Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko, adjunct professor in management at the University of Tampere, Finland.
In this first of our 2015 interview series with place branding thinkers, shakers and doers, Ari-Veikko shares insights from his recent book on the Political Economy of City Branding (Routledge, 2014) and explains why city branding is gaining importance in a globalised and mediatized world.
- How Branding serves as one way of looking at the connection between locality and its operational environment;
- Why ‘Urban attractiveness’ is becoming a key measure of success;
- How city branding can serve as a tool to create win-win situations for the whole community;
- Why we need to learn more about the effectiveness of branding places;
- Why place branding is particularly popular in Scandinavian countries;
- Whether city rankings are useful or harmful.
Ari-Veikko, a few words about your professional trajectory?
I started my work life in Finnish local government, which explains my interest in both strategic management of local government and place promotion. Yet, since my first year at university I have been interested in the contextual changes that condition the restructuring and adjustment processes of local governments, which seems to have affected my approach to city branding.
Before my academic career in the early 1980s, I studied marketing in a business college. However, I do not remember that branding would have been a big topic at that time. Even if marketing in local government was the topic of my Master’s thesis, it soon faded away from my research agenda, and stayed away for some twenty years. It re-emerged with my research on how local governments should cope with the challenge of increased global intercity competition.
It was Manuel Castells’ work on informational city that sparked my interest in contextual urban analysis, which helped to understand the conditions for local economic restructuring. I then drafted some papers on how cities compete with each other globally, and organised a joint session with Prof. Nicos Komninos on this theme for the Knowledge Cities Summit in Shenzhen in 2009. At that time I had finally taken branding on board, even though in a rather narrow sense as city brand equated with economic city profile.