Chapter 2: A strategic spatial planning approach to regional branding: challenges and opportunities
This chapter critically scrutinizes the actual and potential roles of place branding as an instrument for the attainment of strategic spatial planning goals. The chapter also aims to critically discuss the challenges and opportunities of branding regions, a spatial scale seldom explored in academic and grey literatures. By presenting and discussing the challenges and opportunities involved in the process of branding regions, the chapter emphasizes the relevance and effectiveness of regional branding processes in supporting economic and social spatial realignment through the shaping of envisioned and collectively defined futures. Collectively defined futures, as the literature in both fields – place branding and strategic spatial planning – elucidates, requires the engagement and careful consideration of those whom a spatial strategy and ultimately a region brand must serve – the territory and those interacting with it. The involvement of key regional actors as well as community participation in strategic spatial planning and place branding strengthens the place brand independently of its scale of application. The chapter proceeds as follows. Firstly, it clarifies the authors’ understanding of place branding as an instrument for the attainment of strategic spatial planning goals. Secondly, civic and institutional participation is critically appraised in light of the literature of place branding and strategic spatial planning. Thirdly, it discusses the roles of strategic spatial planners in branding regions. Finally, the challenges and opportunities of branding regions are discussed and conclusions regarding such an approach are presented.