International Institute for Innovation in Governance


place branding

Call for papers: Spatial planning & place branding: rethinking synergies and governance

In a special issue for European Planning Studies we intend to bring together experts on spatial planning and place branding to think explicitly on the relation between the two fields and the potential of  theories and practices in which the two are integrated.

We believe exploring the relation between spatial planning and place branding is useful and important because, on the one hand, the relation is still under- explored, while planning could use the insights in place-based value creation stemming from place branding, and place branding often lacks insight in how places might actually be changed or preserved through coordinated intervention. On the other hand, much of the literature on place branding in our view either under- estimates or over- estimates what branding can do, partly because of underlying ideological assumptions, partly because of simply a lack of insight in the functioning of governance, including spatial governance.

Bringing planning and branding closer together in theory and practice means seeing their relation in the context of governance. Planning in this view is spatial governance, the coordination of policies and practices affecting the organization of space. Place branding refers to the creation of value in space by reinforcing and representing the assets of the place in a cohesive manner, in an image and a narrative of the place itself.

Given this context various topics could be explored in this special issue:

  • planning and branding and participatory governance
  • planning and branding and sustainable development
  • planning/branding and the balance preservation/innovation
  • spatial planning as part of place branding
  • place branding as part of spatial planning?
  • planning/branding as core of a development strategy?
  • nature and environmental assets in planning/branding
  • cultural landscapes as meta- assets for planning/branding
  • planning/branding and policy integration
  • innovation and branding
  • design in planning/branding
  • power/knowledge in planning/branding
  • scales in governance/ multi- level governance
  • combining planning/branding for places with deep history
  • agriculture and new food cultures as drivers of planning/branding
  • planning/branding and the balance between collaboration and competition
  • models of branding or planning: caution with best practices

If you are interested in making a contribution to the special issue, please send an abstract of 300-500 words to the guest editors by Feb 15, 2018; for those invited to submit a full paper, please submit this to the guest editors by August 1, 2018; after an internal review and revision, the usual external review for the journal will take place.

Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen and Eduardo Oliveira



Landscape governance, environmental policy, spatial planning and place branding

Place branding strategies are increasingly used to promote cities, regions and national parks. In this paper we analyse the evolution of landscape governance in three Flemish regions to discern the virtues of these place branding strategies in relation to other forms of environmental policy and spatial planning. In all three regions state led policies and comprehensive planning efforts were gradually complemented and replaced by more participatory planning approaches and place branding strategies that use the landscape as a frame for coordinating land use activities and development. The study shows that place branding strategies can be a useful addition to other policy instruments and strategies. A focus on place identity and value creation can help in reconciling the various environmental, social, and economic interests. The study also shows that policies, plans and place brands that are developed outside a political context that is experienced as legitimate and inclusive by the different stakeholders are more difficult to implement and might in the long run undermine landscape governance.

Download the paper via Researchgate or Academia

Place as layered and segmentary commodity


All over the world planners are developing novel approaches to manage urban growth in more sustainable ways, in ways more sensitive to spatial quality and to social, economic and ecological contexts. There is a widely shared understanding that the success of such approaches depends on the possibilities to integrate an almost overwhelming variety of objectives. Smart growth has emerged in recent decades as a comprehensive version of planning which can likely achieve this goal of complex coordination. Smart growth is a comprehensive version of spatial planning thatcan guide sustainable development and tackle negative social and environmental consequences of urbanization. In our paper Place as layered and segmentary commodity. Place branding, smart growth and the creation of product and value we explore how an integration of spatial planning and place branding strategies can further the concept of smart growth and improve its chance at implementation. A review of the parallel evolutions of place branding and smart growth shows their shared interest in comprehensive visions, sensitivity for narratives of place and self, and the proposed embedding in participatory governance. The concept of layered and segmentary commodification offers a novel perspective on value creation in smart growth and helps to develop new forms of smart growth, that combine and integrate elements of spatial planning and place branding.

You can download the paper from the website of International Planning Studies or from researchgate 


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