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What's in a name? Place branding and toponymic commodification

Medway, D and Warnaby, G (2014) What's in a name? Place branding and toponymic commodification. Environment and Planning A, 46. ISSN 0308-518X

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Abstract

If places are increasingly regarded as brands in both the practice of place marketing and its associated theory, then the study of place names (toponymy) arguably overlaps with theories and concepts involving brand naming within the marketing literature. This paper synthesises the diverse literature streams surrounding critical toponymy and brand naming through an exploration of place branding activities. The paper develops the concept of place name commodification, beyond the limited attention it has received within existing critical toponymy research, before examining the issues of endogenous and exogenous contestation that surround it. The paper concludes by discussing how the commodifying effects of places as brand names, with their associated brand values and imagery, can potentially suppress the alternative place perceptions of users, and in doing so stifle the natural potential for cocreation of the place ‘product’ and its related value.

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