City communication

Type: Analysis, research
Client: Urban Sjøfront
Location: Stavanger, Norway
Status: Finished 2010

The gap

Urban Sjøfront challenged Léva to look at the city branding topic related to the development in Stavanger east. The project has a status as a pre-project, and has a research related angle.

Urban Sjofrønt asked the question whether there is a gap between the marketing of cities and the the urban development process, and possibly what can be done to close this gap. Léva can through the theoretical basis of the project document, both through examples and specific theories, confirm that there is a lack of cooperation and common focus. We believe that in many instances that there are cases of a communication failure between the different parties, but we can also see that the focus on who the targets is in a city branding is deficient. Who is the chosen recipient? Most of the marketing strategies is based on promoting the city outwards, with. purpose of attracting visitors to the city.

In the overall urban development process the inhabitants are safeguarded by features, infrastructure, cultural- and social events organized for the residents in the city. In a marketing process, however, the main focus is based on attracting new residents and visitors to the city. In this process, we see a tendency for those that actually already live in the city and their needs are being forgotten.

Communication failure

We conclude that it is clear that there is a missing link, or a communication failure when the target groups and the main purpose of the two processes are different. How can we work together for a common goal unless there is a common goal. These arguments support the client’s claim. However, it can still not be seen this simple that there is a communication failure between the governing parties in marketing and development. Planning at the higher level (usually council) decides which focus points the different parties should have, and the gap between the marketing of the city and urban development process is therefore created by the higher organs which are affected by different time and place specific factors.

Léva think that it is obvious that there is a lack of theoretical knowledge and developed strategies on how to create a holistic approach linking urban development and the promotion of the city. Our opinion is that this stems from the strategies surrounding city branding still is very new and unknown in Norway, and that it is therefore natural to turn to something tangible that can be used as a template: namely branding of a single product. There are a number of theories and branding strategies for simple products. These products – oriented strategies urge to split the target of the way it is done today between the different organs rather than to encourage cooperation.

Again we ask the question: Can one look at a city as a single product? The town consists of a complex structure with a wide range of qualities and challenges, and we therefore believe that this demand a new strategy that are tailored to the city, to successfully complete a city branding process.