Umeå. Wants more. : A coordination perspective on how key stakeholders develop placebrand identity.

University essay from Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet; Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet


During centuries, places – nations, region and cities – have tried to make themselvesmore attractive, productive, lucrative and secure. This strive has accelerated due toglobalization and other external factors. Today there is fierce and global competitionbetween cities regarding promoting exports, convincing firms to invest as well asattracting tourists and inhabitants. The place brand, and the meaning of it, is key forsuccess. However, place branding is challenging. It includes the involvement of allstakeholders – possessing different agendas and target markets – and the coordination ofthose while simultaneously making sure that conflicting messages, harming the placebrand, are avoided. There is a disagreement among researchers whether to prefer asingle brand identity – contributing with a clear and trustworthy message, or if amultiple identity approach – enriching and diversifying the place brand, is desirable.The described conflicts above create the problem background on which this study isbased. Place branding is a relatively new but growing field of research. The topic ismultidisciplinary and we consider it advantageous to study place branding from astakeholder and coordination perspective. In this thesis, the Stakeholders are viewed asthe actors that engage in the act of Coordination to successfully undertake the process ofPlace Branding in order to develop a strong Place brand identity. Based on the purposeand research problems of this thesis, we aim to produce a better tool for analyzing brandidentity development. A theory based preliminary framework was developed with theintention of testing it on the case Place brand Umeå.For this qualitative research, a single case study design is used and nine keystakeholders are identified for the data gathering – using semi-structured interviews,secondary data and observations as data collection methods. The preliminary frameworkis used as an analytical tool and gives guidance to the research. For the analysis,categorization and pattern matching techniques are employed. The main finding of thisstudy is that the theoretical framework of place brand identity development holds andcan be used for the understanding of the process of identity development. The keystakeholders develop the brand identity through individual and common goals andactivities. Coordination can be managed through common activities within areas ofinterdependencies, hence the framework emphasizes the correct identification of keystakeholders, goals and activities. All components of the brand identity developmentprocess are affected by external factors. For the case of Place brand Umeå, theframework was slightly modified according to the empirical findings. We identifiedcoordination problems between the key stakeholders of Place brand Umeå and offeredrecommendations to manage the issues. The main contribution of this research is thetheory-based framework laying the foundation for a general theory on the topic, thuscontributing to theory. Our study also fills other research gaps by contributing with anunderstanding of the stakeholder’s role, prerequisites for coordination and by studyingplace branding in the context of a mid-size city. With regard to the empiricalcontribution, this study offers a range of insights for Umeå and the findings can beregarded as a starting point for brand managers working to develop the place brandidentity in other contexts.

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