– This paper aims to firstly depict the theoretical links between place
branding and strategic spatial planning to provide further theoretical
and conceptual foundations. Secondly, it aims to explore the roots of
place branding theory and practice in Portugal, as well as how place
branding has been approached (or not) in spatial development plans,
strategic initiatives and policy documents by stating the territorial,
spatial-economic and sectoral development trajectories for the country
and its northern region.
– A content analysis of 20 spatial development plans, strategies and
policy documents (of 30 identified), published by Portuguese
authorities, the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development, mainly for the period between 2014 and
2020, has been used.
– Empirical evidence shows that tourism-oriented promotion initiatives,
investment-oriented marketing campaigns and communication strategies
uniquely supported by visual elements and aesthetic values (e.g. logos
and slogans) deserve more attention from authorities in charge of
spatial planning and policy-making. Place branding is an absent term.
Moreover, there is inconsistency between current research and practice
on place branding and how it has been incorporated in strategic spatial
planning at EU, national and regional levels.
– Whilst some of the research findings are place-specific (Portugal and
its northern region), this exploratory paper aims to present a better
understanding of the way in which places and branding can be
conceptually addressed, primarily by assigning a spatial dimension to
the idea of branding places and its alignment with strategic spatial
planning and spatial plan-making.
– This paper critically explores the actual or potential roles of place
branding as an instrument for the attainment of strategic spatial
planning goals through its integration in plan and policy-making. By
guiding the attention of academics, practitioners and policymakers
towards a strategic spatially oriented approach to place branding, the
paper brings an alternative view to the scholarly and professional
debate on place branding.