How to catch a city? The concept and measurement of place brands

Sebastian Zenker (Institute of Marketing and Media, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Publication date: 15 March 2011



The branding of places has gained popularity among city officials in recent years. Unfortunately, place marketers often disregard the complexity of place brands, as do their counterparts in the academic discussion: the focus repeatedly falls on the simple explorative description of certain city brands, rather than a proper conceptualization of a place brand that employs different measurement approaches for the different elements of the brand. Thus, this paper aims to identify those different elements and discuss measurement approaches that could prove useful in place branding.


Following a review of the extant literature on the measurement of brand image in general and place branding in particular, the paper outlines distinct elements, categories and dimensions of a place brand, as well as a number of approaches from place brand image measurement, with example cases of each approach.


Exploring a brand can be divided into three main approaches: in the form of free brand associations of target customers with qualitative methods, in the form of attributes with quantitative methods like standardized questionnaires and with mixed methods that combine qualitative research with quantitative methods.


This paper presents an extensive review of current place brand measurement studies and provides a conceptual framework for the elements of a place brand. Through these means, the paper offers a valuable concept for place branding and furthers the discussion of appropriate measurement approaches in the realm of place branding.



Sebastian Zenker (2011) "How to catch a city? The concept and measurement of place brands", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 40-52

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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