Research Capsule: Place-branding

Georgia

Georgia talks about her successful honours project in her tourism management degree, completed in Spring 2020

What I chose to explore and why – Branding was touched on in one of my second-year modules; I really enjoyed learning about it and wanted to see how branding principles could be transferred across to places. As a result, I chose to explore place branding for my honours project. I selected Weymouth, a seaside town in Dorset, as my case study. I have lived in Weymouth my entire life and felt there was potential to improve the town’s place brand.

An example of some of the data collected – In our discussions about Weymouth, one participant replied: “Growing up with kids is brilliant down here. You have access to the beach, the sea, everything you really want. It’s a nice place to live and a nice place to grow up”. However, not everyone held the same view. Another participant said “Weymouth is quite a deprived area, so the social conditions are quite poor in lots of areas, … particularly the Park District. It sits one road back from the seafront so you’ve got this beautiful beach, promenade and façade of the buildings and then immediately behind is a very underfunded area of the county”.

The process of analysis and outcomes – When analysing the data I made sure I fully understood each transcript and put myself in the shoes of the participants. I considered how certain factors (such as the area they live in or their length of residency) might influence their view. This enabled me to uncover and develop ideas that led to the final outcome. My research found that two negative elements, social conditions and government, were being excluded from Weymouth’s current place brand. Despite this, participants were able to highlight positive aspects within these elements and offer a range of suggestions to incorporate them into the town’s place branding. This reinforces previous studies that have claimed the importance of local residents in place branding. Unsurprisingly, one of the recommendations of the study is that DMOs and place branders incorporate residents into the place branding process because they have an unparalleled ability to uncover the positive aspects of where they live.

The future – Since graduating I have been keen to improve my marketing knowledge and have been volunteering at We All Need A Holiday (a travel start-up) as a Social Media Marketing Advisor. I am looking for a full-time role within the tourism industry working in either a destination-focussed or marketing role. Follow my consultancy work on Instagram with the tag @StarlightSocialMedia