«of the AM’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation SIG INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SESSIONS Sessions chairs The main function of a session chair is to ...»
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Toward an understanding of an inside out perspective to city branding – A study of Leeds and Istanbul Yuksel, Ruya Purpose Over the years many cities have often experienced an identity crisis in a post-industrial world (Skinner, 2008; Trueman et al, 2008, Kotler and Gertner, 2002). Consequently city planners have to review the fundamental purpose and rationale of the urban within the context of 21st century requirements; often with the aim of rebranding and marketing places in a revised context. It is therefore not surprising that opportunities for rebranding are tempting as city brand managers re-examine the identity of cities in a post industrial environment and strive to overcome negative perceptions about places, as well as to attract visitors, new businesses and residents as well as powerful stakeholders and financial investment (Kavaratzis, 2004;
Gilmore, 2002; Goodwin, 1993).
Until recently, the term ‘city branding’ has been most associated within the context of tourism related marketing literature (Tasci and Kozak, 2006; Hankinson, 2001; Kotler et al., 1993), indicating an outside-in approach towards marketing places, often in an attempt to gain a wider perspective of a city (Price and Brodie, 2001). However, such an approach in tourism seems to be lacking depth and considered to be fragmented rather than comprehensive, since it ignores local communities. In support Kavaratzis (2004) highlights that whilst economic development is essential for residents’ basic needs; identification with their cities enables them to associate their personality through the perception of city’s image that adds to the desirability of the city.
Breakwell (1993) outlines the concept of four processes in relation to place identity: place related distinctiveness (referring to places to distinguish oneself), place referent continuity (place as a reference to one’s past) and place congruent continuity (place as confirming one’s beliefs), place related self-esteem (referring to place as a means to self-fulfillment) and finally place related self-efficacy. In perspective of this concept, it is important to highlight the implication of being ‘attached to’ a place through sense of place of the local community which feeds the social capital for a sustainable city (Lin, 2002; Lloyd and McCarthy, 2003).
Furthermore, Trueman et al. (2004) add that environmental developments play a key role in improving perceptions and influence the local community to take ownership of the city and pride hence enhance the brand value.
In consequence, the purpose of this paper is to present the preliminary findings of research into the concept of identity within urban spaces in the context of brand ownership from the perspective of residents who may have an important influence upon city brand identity. The research aims to explore perceptions held by residents in order to understand the impacts of spatial identity in city branding.
Methodology A grounded theory methodology was seen as appropriate and found to be valuable for the present study due to the lack of insight in relation to the specific factors and/or factor associations that comprise the different perspectives of the subject area.
The study adopts a constructivist approach to grounded theory (Charmaz, 2000; Charmaz and Mitchell, 2001) as this approach embraces and encourages attention to possible broader, contextual influences that is in parallel line with the complex nature of this study. The constructivist view (Charmaz, 2000) on grounded theory aims to highlight the phenomenon that is being studied rather than the methods of studying it by adopting the grounded theory guidelines as tools but not advocating of its objective and positivist stance in its earlier formation (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005).
This was a significant viewpoint in grounded theory approach as it recognised the role of the researcher and the possibility that the categories arise through the interpretations “of” the data, not “from” them (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005: 509).
City branding, especially if the study is taking an inside-out perspective by emphasising the notions of identity and residents of a city, requires research data that is diverse and socially constructed. Charmaz (2006) notes that all analysis come from a viewpoint or perspective;
ideas or data are not mere external objects that researchers can passively observe. In addition, according to the constructivist approach, the researcher’s prior knowledge and experience are ingredients of our interaction with empirical data but not determinant elements of inquiry (Charmaz, 2006).
In accordance with the constructivist view on grounded theory method, the study consisted of two-stage sampling involving initial and theoretical sampling with both stages including purposive sampling design. The initial stage included seven participants and the main inclusion criteria were that they had to be residents of Leeds, UK for a minimum of five years and had no direct links to the researcher.
Based upon the findings from the initial stage, emerging concepts and properties provided the basis for selecting subsequent research participants for the theoretical sampling process. The guiding principle of this stage was to gain further understanding and making sense of the emerging categories. Emerging concepts from the initial stage suggested that living in an environment where there are people from different cultural backgrounds indicated a feeling of safety and a welcoming environment. Therefore the stage two of the study was designed to involve the addition of Istanbul, Turkey to the original proposal of Leeds in order to 1) explore the associations or differences in cultural backgrounds to the concepts of ‘safety’, ‘welcoming’ and ownership, 2) compare and contrast the meanings of the key themes of the study in two different cultures. As a result the second stage will consist of further in-depth interviews with the residents of Leeds as well as Istanbul.
Although there are important differences between two cities, both cultural and geographical, the purposive sampling design will be maintained in both locations. In Istanbul, because the city is divided into two main regions as European and Asian side, the potential participants will include residents from both sides.
Figure 1.1 Conceptual framework of inside out approach Indeed traditional, purist grounded theory (Glaser, 1978) rejects a prior knowledge, in this study extensive literature review was carried out in order to gain directions and indicate ways of how the subject area has been studied to date.
Although the present study is still on-going, the preliminary findings of the initial stage reveals rich insight on the processes between the key concepts of the study highlighted in Figure 1.1.
The key themes arose from the initial stage is the behaviour of transitory population and residents on sense place and impacts on ownership of immediate environment and the city of residence in general. In addition as mentioned earlier cultural diversity is associated with the meaning of ‘feeling safe’ and ‘welcomed’ by the participants and the second stage of the research aims to study further in a comparative study of Leeds and Istanbul.
It is important to highlight at this point that the proposed research is still an on-going study and is at the initial phase of second stage data collection however the researcher plans to collect and analyse further data by the date of conference presentations.
Theoretical implications Most city planners take the concept of identity lightly, see branding merely as an instrument to attract outsiders and disregard the influence of internal stakeholders, specifically local communities. However a social-geographical perspective highlights the significant influence of places on human life and suggest that individuals often react to a place with a deep sense of attachment and pride, whereas, from a branding perspective place attachment is often associated with ownership and loyalty. In addition, recent studies about place branding indicate that environmental developments play a key role in improving perceptions and influence the residents to take ownership of the city and pride hence enhance the brand value.
Consequently, from a theoretical perspective this paper aims to bring the two subject fields of urban studies and brand management under the significance of spatial identity and ownership in the pursuit of a sustainable and effective city branding.
Practical implications City branding has been employed by the national governmental bodies as well as local authorities in an attempt to attract new visitors, residents and businesses. However it is often seen as an easy promotional activity and often carried out unstructured and rushed. Unlike in product branding, neither a customer satisfaction can be guaranteed to attract more buyers nor cities can have a traditional sense of branding department to serve across all its target audiences. In perspective of taking cities as multidimensional entities with unique spatial identities, with several different stakeholders and audiences (Hospers, 2010), it is important to explore and understand the three concepts of identity, ownership and differentiation.
The present research aims to highlight the differences between “gaining new customers” and “keeping existing customers happy” in the context of cities, in an attempt to emphasise the inside out to city branding management. The concept of city branding has been under an influx of several fields of study and practice; marketing, urban and environmental and even social studies being the stronger fields. This research aims to bring a new perspective to the existing city managements by highlighting a focal point of “keeping the existing customers happy” through investigating and understanding the role and significance of residents, their attachment to where they live and how this insight can be cooperated into creating and developing a sustainable city brand.
Limitations The proposed preliminary findings neither can be considered as representative of the concept of identity within urban spaces and its significance, nor aims to generalise findings for policymaking. Every city is unique with its distinct physical environment and sense of place;
hence, it is possible that the research aims to develop a unique theory that will represent Leeds and Istanbul comparison.
Originality/value Many post industrial cities are in competition and in process of regenerating areas of decline and re-inventing their “brand identity” in the 21st century in an attempt to attract inward investors and visitors. However without a deeper understanding and an insight about the aspirations of residents, it is difficult for city planners and marketers to devise a successful scheme for change (“rebranding” and “regeneration”). Hence the highlighted inside out approach attempts to provide an essential starting point and a valuable insight into how individuals within these communities identify with the city from a spatial perspective, how attached they feel in terms of brand ownership and how they interpret the city.
KeywordsCity branding, brand ownership, spatial identity, grounded theory
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