Marketing Local Identity

Journal of Urban Design, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1997 35



This paper reports on a research project into city identity, city marketing
and the implications for urban design. Identity can refer to those aspects which make a place identifiable, or unique but can also refer to the way individuals or groups identify with a place. A common view today is that uniform concepts of planning and development together with the 'commodification' of places has led to the loss of localized identity. However, it now appears that the increased pressure on city managers to compete for investment and 'market' their locality has led to a renewed interest in local difference. Creating a sense of identity is essential for successfully generating economic activity and urban marketing. The act of identification of and identification with a new place and new life style are important expectations of new and existing residents.
Despite this the promotional material produced by various cities is remarkably similar and demonstrates a desegregated and thematic attitude to place. The images exhibited in this material suggest diversity within rather than between cities. The logic of urban marketing describes the city as a series of themed attributes each offering a particular amenity with an associated image and urban form. As urban management moves closer to urban marketing the city will become increasingly fragmented into discrete stereotypical pieces with a thematic rather than spatial relationship.

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