Theory for Place Professionals: Definitions, Concepts & Academic Literature

What are place brands? What is place branding? What is the difference between place and national brands? How is place branding linked to public diplomacy? Find answers in below collection of theories, concepts and definitions linked to the image, perception, reputation and branding of places – cities, countries, regions, destinations, nations.

Definition of place branding

For place branding to be successful, it needs to be understood as a strategic, holistic concept which goes beyond creating logos, slogans and marketing. Robert Govers and Frank Go (in their 2009 book) put it as follows:

Place branding: The process of discovering, creating, developing and realizing ideas and concepts for reconstructing place identities, their defining traits and ‘genius loci’ and subsequently building the sense of place, by efforts and investments in hardware (e.g. infrastructure, buildings), software (e.g. events, stories), orgware (e.g. co-operative organisational structuring) and virtual ware (e.g. symbols and symbolic actions, websites).

Place branding principles

Get to know five place branding principles for successful brand development or management for cities, regions, destinations or nations.

In a nutshell: key concepts explained

Browse our collection of place brand theory posts or view our latest posts on key concepts relevant for the work of place brand professionals:

Reading lists for students and researchers

Literature reviews

Brands and branding

Theories, concepts and definitions of the terms brand and branding, their meaning and functions – as discussed in academic literature.

Nation branding perspectives

Why are some people so convinced and optimistic about nation brands, and others so critical and disapproving of only the thought that one could brand a nation? This page introduces the different perspective on nation branding – from market-oriented, functional, to political (public diplomacy), to cultural-critical – as discussed in academic literature.

Differences between nation branding and place branding

Review of academic literature on the differences and similarities between the concepts of place branding and nation branding.

Place image and reputation

Theories, concepts and definitions of place perceptions, their image and reputation, and the factors influencing them – as discussed in academic literature.

Places and destinations

What is a place? Or a tourist destination? How come our perceptions of the same place or destination can differ considerably? Some thoughts on our perceptions of destinations and places, and how they are constructed, influenced by discourse, for example, the ways in which they are portrayed in the media.

Media representations of places

What role does the mass media play with regard to our perceptions of certain places, and how do news coverage or social media representations influence the image and reputation of places such as countries, cities, regions or destinations? Here is what academic literature has to say about media representations of places.

Nations and national identity

Introduction of nations as ‘imagined communities’ and national identity as influenced and constructed by discourse, language, the media – as discussed in academic literature.

Green brands and sustainability branding

Review of academic literature on green brands and branding based on environmental and sustainability credentials; functional and emotional components of green brand positioning, reasons for increase in green branding, and a mild warning not to succumb to greenwashing.

Brand integrity, credibility, authenticity

Review of academic literature on the importance and meaning of place brand integrity, credibility, and authenticity.

Brand legitimacy and the role of political and business leadership

Some thoughts in academic literature on what legitimacy is, why perceived brand legitimacy is so important, and the role political and business leadership plays in maintaining brand legitimacy.

Academic literature not your thing? Try our guides or catch up on best practice with our place branding tutorials.