Destination marketing is obsessed with place authenticity and for good reasons. Tourists, it is said, want to experience the ‘real thing’. What is that real thing? What are authentic places? We know that some places feel more ‘real’ than others, but what does that feeling mean? Is place authenticity the same as the ‘sense of place’?
Imagine the following situation: You are walking in the mountains, maybe wandering through a beautiful forest with no one around. You enjoy the sounds of the forest animals, the smell of the damp earth. The light through the trees makes you dreamy. You enjoy the solitude, that feeling that you are into some kind of discovery of nature and of yourself.
“There are things that give us the feeling that places are authentic, but when examined closely they are somehow flawed.”
Behind the trees you discover a small well-designed kiosk. As you approach a very friendly person greets you: “Would you like some information about the other sights in the area?” Suddenly you are not in the discovery of nature any longer. That very friendly greeting makes you feel that you had been duped. What you thought was an untouched forest was in fact part of the packaged local sights. Continue reading “Can you make authentic places?”→
This image, which appeared on TIP’s (Berlin city magazine) Facebook page on 29th July 2016, depicts a map of Berlin, where boroughs have been replaced by types of fast food. I find the map very funny, but also an interesting case to think about place-related connotations. Before I get into that, let me explain what is what (starting from the outer left and then moving clockwise). Spandau: “SPANDAU”; Reinickendorf: “Currywurst (West)”; Pankow: “Vegetarian Spring Roll”; Lichtenberg: “Nr 131”; Marzahn-Hellersdorf: “Pelmeni”; Treptow-Köpenick: “Currywurst (East)”; Neukölln: “Döner & Schawarma”; Tempelhof-Schöneberg: “Foccacia & Co”; Steglitz-Zehlendorf: “We don’t serve fast food”; Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf: “Crunchy rolls with Tête de moine from Butter Lindner”; Mitte: “Sushi & Sashimi”; Mitte: “Bio-Burger”. Continue reading “Places and figures of speech: metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche”→
Caio Esteves, a fellow of the Institute of Place Management, is an architect by training and a specialist in branding. He began his career as a brand manager in the furniture industry, where he stayed for four years before establishing his own agency in 2006. In 2015 he founded the first company that specializes in Place Branding in Brazil, Places for us, the company that currently runs the first Brazilian start-up certified with the social impact seal BCORP (pending). Beside the practice of Place Branding, he divides his activities between lectures and lessons about Branding/Place Branding, coordinating the first MBA place branding in the country as well as writing a book on the subject, which launched this month. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Caio Esteves”→
I recently came upon a very interesting (and in my opinion also very useful) document, the World Towns Framework, which begins with the following: “We shall support the unique characteristics of each town and urban district, the ‘placeDNA’, to engage communities, businesses and institutions in driving forward their future, and to address the plural and distinctive set of challenges facing these unique places.”
There are several issues I could raise here (e.g. does each town really have unique characteristics or is it the blend of characteristics that is unique? are communities, business and institutions players of the same level or are they different types of categories?), but today I’d like to ponder only the ‘place DNA’. It is an expression that bothers me and always has. Continue reading “Places don’t have DNAs – living organisms do”→
Jon Stobart is a Fellow of the Institute of Place Management and Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research focuses on the histories of retailing and consumption, largely in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England. This involves exploring the geography, nature and timing of changes in retailing and shopping, not so much to find the origins of ‘modern’ practices as to examine the ways in which the processes of buying and selling goods related to broader social, cultural and economic contexts. In this, he is particularly interested in the spaces of consumption which shaped and were shaped by these processes: shops, high streets and towns. His research also explores consumption as ownership – an interest which involves examining the shifting place of material objects in domestic environments, especially country houses.Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Prof Jon Stobart”→
The research community within the IPM is constantly challenging how we think about place and what place means. I am concerned about people (and even their non-human companions!) in places. I have long struggled, as many academics have, with the idea of place-making and the queasy notion of wading into communities and suggesting that these places can be ‘better’. My own PhD research examined communities how they shape their own identities through drawing or resisting place-imaging projects. By spending time with community groups and undertaking participant observation at official and unofficial Liverpool Capital of Culture events (both during and after 2008) I was able to understand how local people performed identities which related to their sense of belonging to their neighbourhoods and the wider city. It considered the balance between creative improvisation and the constraints of social and cultural norms in forming identities.
How do you start a place branding project in new real estate development projects from ground zero? Where do you find the identity that will guide such a process? How do you develop a place branding strategy with authenticity and not as a form of marketing, limited to “selling” a place?
In this article I’ll share an experience from a new real estate development project that involves place branding, placemaking and community engagement in São Paulo, Brazil, called Bairro da Gente/ Aeroclube (Our Neighborhood / Flying Club). The project takes place in Limeira, a municipality of a 300,000 inhabitants in the São Paulo state. This greenfield placemaking project has a unique feature: it is a project for a low-income population, otherwise usually limited to monotonous and faceless housing projects, that ignore differences between people and groups. This specific approach uses the cities-for-people thought, propagated by Jan Gehl, Kent, White, Jacobs and others. Bairro da Gente is based on three principles: mixed income, multiple purposes and cultural as well as housing diversity. The goal of this triptych is to create places of new centralities. The existence of income-generating elements inside the neighbourhood, (job and entrepreneurial opportunities, technical education, creative and solidary economy) resulting from an approach that encourages mixed uses, decreases the commuting of residents from the outskirts to central areas. This also contributes directly to people’s quality of life and indirectly to the region traffic. Continue reading “Place Branding and new real estate entreprises in São Paulo, Brazil”→
Following the publication of the draft World Towns Agreement for discussion and adoption at the World Towns Leadership Summit on 15th & 16th June in Edinburgh, Professor Gary Warnaby FIPM (Institute of Place Management and University of Manchester) and Professor Cathy Parker SFIPM (Institute of Place Management and Manchester Metropolitan University) have published a response on behalf of the Institute. Continue reading “IPM response to draft World Towns Agreement”→