The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Rebecca Richardson

Project title: Place Branding for Urban Development: NewcastleGateshead in Comparative International Context 

Supervisor: Prof Andy Pike and Prof Anoop Nayak

My research is an ESRC funded CASE studentship which is a collaboration between the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies and the NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the destination marketing agency for NewcastleGateshead. The aim of the project is to develop an understanding of the underexplored relationship between place branding and urban development. As a result of increased interterritorial competition, instances of place branding activity have been increasing for the last two decades, however, there is still a lot left to be explored and understood about place branding practices and their impact on cities.

The key areas of research for this project are the ways in which place brands are constructed through the relationships and processes involved, the ways in which place brands can be sustained and become embedded over time, the contribution place branding can make to urban development and how this contribution can best be assessed and evaluated.

Using a comparative case study approach I will compare the place branding and urban development experiences of four European cities, Manchester, Malmo, Leipzig and Turin, to the core case study of NewcastleGateshead. Place branding activities have commonly been undertaken by post-industrial cities as part of an aim to develop new economic trajectories and dispel previous negative associations of industrial decline. This has guided the selection of the case study cities which, similar to NewcastleGateshead, have experienced industrial decline but have taken opportunities to develop new economic activities in response to structural change.

The intended aim is to develop the academic understanding of place branding in the context of urban development, where the current literature lacks comparative international studies, whilst also providing learning for the NewcastleGateshead Initiative.