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Let them do the work: a participatory place branding approach

Sebastian Zenker (Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Carsten Erfgen (Institute of Marketing & Media, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




This paper aims to develop a participatory approach to place branding. In doing so, it offers guidance on how to implement a participatory place branding strategy within place management practice.


The paper is based on theoretical insights drawn from the combination of distinct literatures on place branding, general marketing and collaborative governance.


The paper highlights the importance of residents in the place branding process and argues that their special functions as ambassadors for the place constitute the most valuable assets in place branding. Thus, a participatory place branding approach involving residents is needed. To implement this approach, three stages are necessary: (stage 1) defining a shared vision for the place including core place elements; (stage 2) implementing a structure for participation; (stage 3) supporting residents in their own place branding projects.


The inclusion of residents is often requested in contemporary place branding literature. Unfortunately, none of these articles offer a real strategy for participatory place branding so far. Thus, this conceptual essay provides a participatory place branding approach to help place managers implement such structure.



Zenker, S. and Erfgen, C. (2014), "Let them do the work: a participatory place branding approach", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 225-234.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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