City Branding and Civil Society. A Controversial Relationship

Team: Ian Banerjee, Sabine Knierbein, Andrea Rieger-Jandl + StudentInnen
Kooperationspartner: TU-Wien: Architekturgeschichte::Bauforschung, SKuOR, ISRA
Publikation: Knierbein, Sabine; Rieger-Jandl, Andrea; Banerjee, Ian (ed.): Information.Communication.Attention! Exploratory urban studies on city branding and beyond, IVA-Verlag, Wien, 2011


How does a city emphasize its distinctive characteristics? Are there ways – in theory and practice – to build and manage the reputation of cities? Is it possible to successfully transfer such images as export products? Which examples can be considered as outstanding cases for new and challenging approaches to city branding and how can city branding be translated into the Viennese context? Can a new understanding of city branding „from below“ foster identification processes?

The term “city branding” is increasingly displacing the “city marketing” debate. Appart from the new need for branding urban environments, critical voices point to disadvantages within the city branding discourse such as

  • the focus on competitiveness
  • the top-down approach (image-experts)

The potential of citizens’, visitors’ and inhabitants’ imaginations to foster a collective, multifaceted construction of a strong image of the city is still widely neglected. The collective action of civil society around shared interests, purposes and values of people living, working or visiting a city might differ quite significantly from actions taken through agencies or governmental institutions. Thus the main focus is placed on the crucial question of how civil society actors might be integrated into a new understanding of the discursive construction of the communicated city.