The first two International Place Branding Conferences have provided a highly valuable input into the still emerging field of place branding. In Berlin 2008 and Bogotá 2011, scholars, practitioners, and city representatives came together to discuss various aspects related to the branding of places. A ‘common language’ among the different disciplines has been sought and different perspectives on the issue have been examined. The conferences provided important insights to the subthemes of place branding, but open questions remained. These questions deal with the general understanding of what the place branding profession does as distinguished from affiliated fields, such as place marketing or city management. Conference participants urged to solve the ambiguities in the analytical understanding of place branding.
It is for these unsolved issues that the format of a special session was developed for the International Place Branding Conference. Scholars and practitioners met in Utrecht January 2012 to approach place branding from a theoretical and methodological standpoint. Keynote lectures, paper sessions and panel discussions contributed to a more precise understanding of the definition, concepts, and roots of place branding. Also, the special session helped in enriching the dialogue between various actors from different disciplines.