Stella Kladou on How Culture Impacts City Branding

Stella Kladou, Assistant Professor at Boğaziçi University, in this interview discusses - among other topics - the role of culture in city branding, destination marketing trends and the current practice of place branding in Turkey.

Stella, what do you understand as the “brand” of places, and what is place branding all about, in your view?

In my view, people and culture represent the core of the place brand, although the ‘brand’ of places represents everything the place has ever been about, and everything the place currently embraces. Place branding views these from a strategic point of view and bridges the past with the present and stands as the ‘joint vision’ of where the place and place actors want to see themselves in the future.

Place branding takes our understanding of the place beyond efforts to ‘sell’ the city, region or country. Its primary interest is internal audiences. Place branding builds on the premise that once the place brand is strong and its development cherished internally, then external audiences will equally appreciate it.

What (or who) led you to the topic of country- and destination branding – how did you get interested?

I grew up in Crete, and very vividly remember my first personal interaction with tourists at the age of 5… Growing up in Crete and Greece meant growing up hand in hand with tourism. But, even back then so many things felt ‘wrong’.

When I was working on my master thesis, my supervisor Prof. Siomkos guided me through my first research on tourism, which initiated my interest in research and places. That project focused on more ‘rewarding’ forms of tourism than the cultural element I originally had in mind. Yet, working on it made me want to bridge my concerns as a local raised in a popular tourism destination, with the capabilities I started developing as a researcher and what I kept reading about culture and country branding – even if these were not relevant to my thesis.

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