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A comparative analysis of place branding in Michigan and Ontario
Urban Research & Practice
  • Richard Sadler, Western University
  • Evan P Cleave, Western University
  • Godwin Arku, Western University
  • Jason A. Gilliland, Western University
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Place branding has increasingly been adopted as a municipal initiative to change the trajectory of local economic development. Specifically, local municipalities and communities have used place branding not only as a response to the influence of globalization and neo-liberalism, but also economic challenges and restructuring. Like any other initiative, the ultimate goal is to enhance the economic and social well-being of local jurisdictions. Although a popular strategy, it is not clear if and how locally specific factors mediate the process. By comparing two cross-border geographical areas, this study attempts to identify how regional variability in the manifestation of politicaleconomic forces, as well as geographical influences, affects the use of place branding at local scales. Every municipality in Michigan (n = 1774) and Ontario (n = 414) was systematically examined for the presence and message of local place brands as presented through logos and slogans. The comparative analysis demonstrated that Ontario’s municipalities utilized place branding to a greater extent, and that the dominant messages differ by region. Further, this analysis shows that – beyond political differences – geographical context appears to have an effect on both local place branding usage and message.


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Citation Information
Richard Sadler, Evan Cleave, Godwin Arku & Jason Gilliland (2016) A comparative analysis of place branding in Michigan and Ontario, Urban Research & Practice, 9:1, 16-36, DOI: 10.1080/17535069.2015.1037341