Building Place Identity through Heritage | Alexandra PACESCU & Vlad THIERY
Abstract: In an increasingly globalized world, the fading specificity is producing homogeneous images that make cities more and more difficult to tell apart. The market economy tends to commodify each and every aspect of urban life, even those belonging to the cultural realm. As a consequence, a need for differentiators arises, which can be best embodied by the local heritage.
The present paper is trying to establish a link between the concept of Place Identity, seen from a marketing point of view, and Heritage, as a key factor to build or emphasize a ‘point of difference’ for ‘a unique selling proposition’. Although ‘brands’ are commonly associated with globalization and its supposed tendency to erase defining characteristics, their marketing principles could prove to be the very solution to regaining the lost specificity, since they help embed local heritage, already an asset, into the ‘mix’ that determines ‘place identity’.
Building and promoting an identity is also the endeavor of branding, hence the overlapping of these two concepts. It is therefore useful to examine the evolution of brands from simple marks of identity to entities which develop complex relations with the users. The need for a ‘a unique selling proposition’ that brands have already acknowledged should be considered when building the place identity so much needed by cities in their fierceful competition for attracting activities.
Branding through heritage could prove to be a safe bet to reinforce the particular in the globalised market, if correctly managed and planned. Promoting the city and salvaging one of its key differentiators at the same time is, for sure, a win-win situation.
Keywords: Branding, heritage, commercial, cultural, specificity.
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