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Branding Cities

The activity of branding cities refers to commonplace attempts to differentiate and promote cities in attempts to generate economic and/or intangible benefits for the city’s government and populace. These efforts commonly incorporate practices derived from product branding and include the creation, communication, and stewardship of city-specific images among residents and nonresidents. This entry explores the origins of these practices, highlights a recent and well-known example of city branding, and details challenges specific to attempts to brand cities.

Attempts to define cities and differentiate them from comparable others most likely accompanied the emergence of traditional, city-based, habitation. City boosters and/or unaffiliated entities were the primary proponents of these efforts until the mid-1980s, when these activities began to be seen as the legitimate responsibilities of city governments and ...

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