Communication is an important dimension in the place-branding process. Place-brand communication becomes aspirational in attempts to generate more positive images of places. In aspirational place-brand communication, the conceptualized image of the place is not made concrete but rather built through future actions.
This paper by Cecilia Cassinger of the Department of Strategic Communication at the Lund University of Sweden studies place-branding campaigns in Swedish coastal cities of Helsingborg and Malmo. The study carried out between the 2015 and 2018 period looks into how communication professionals understood and experienced the challenges of branding the two cities. Researchers tried to develop the idea of place brand communication as aspirational talk on an established model of communication.
In the case of Helsingborg, when political parties withdrew support their ‘pearl of the ocean’, the vision was almost lost in 2015. However, after that, the communication office changed the strategy and posted policy papers on the website to motivate the city residents in decision-making. This new aspirational vision of Helsingborg to build a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable city for people and businesses by 2035 was based on market-oriented aspiration.
In the case of Malmo, the city’s vision for long remained vague due to a lack of political consensus. In 2015, the communication office in its destination brand communication campaign introduced the subtle and implicit slogan of ‘It starts here. To deal with the negative image on social media, a communication policy was developed. The view of communication as being tied to ideals of democratic values and tolerance is underscored in the city’s social media policy. The campaign alludes to Malmo’s transformation from an industrial city to a knowledge city.
The sustainable and civil city is devoid of specific meaning but serves as an ideal that is to be realized in stakeholders’ future action. The city website says, ‘A place where people come to make their dreams come true.
To read more: https://orcid.org/0000-0002- 0052-4045;
Cassinger; Cecilia, Lund University, Sweden. doi: 10.15581/003.31.4.79-89 Communication & Society, 31 (4), 79-89