The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework to describe possible key features in the relationship between culture and place branding. The inspiration to redact this paper was drawn from the inadequacy of literature and attempts to introduce the theoretical framework linking these two fields by asking: how do we define culture within the context of place branding? How do decision makers distinguish whether culture should be at the forefront of a place branding strategy? On one hand, the paper points out the powerful advantages while using art(s) and culture‐based activities to promote a place. On the other hand, the paper highlights the layered dilemmas for practitioners concerning the amalgamation of such a practice on a branding campaign.
Those questions' clarification is achieved by means of a literature review that examines this relationship from a wide range of disciplines: sociology, marketing, place branding, cultural management, urban studies, etc.
The paper's findings can be summarized in three points: first, culture plays a critical role on a place branding campaign, as long as the authentic cultural elements are produced by the residents. This practice helps to avoid the mass reproduction of “borrowed” cultural elements, i.e. the investment in cultural and leisure consumption industries. Second, the cultural field has already deployed practices used by local authorities in urban regeneration, such as cultural planning. Thus, converged objectives link cultural managers to place branding experts, refining multi‐dimensional policy thinking towards a more integrated image. Finally, the cultural aspect is related with the pre‐existing reputation of a place. Further, it is connected with the minds of people, fostering the contentions of common essence between culture and branding.
This paper intends to contribute and enhance inter‐professional thinking, by approaching the cultural sector with the appropriate sensitivity.
The paper provides deeper understanding of culture, bordering the gap between technocrats and cultural‐oriented professionals by contributing to the creation of a coherent communication system for the study of place branding theory. The cultural dimension of a place is very spacious and further research needs to be made, approaching the subject from new perspectives, such as people's perception of the brand while using art(s) as a branding tool.
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