Comparing city image and brand identity in polycentric regions using network analysis

Niels Wäckerlin, Thomas Hoppe, Martijn Warnier, W. Martin de Jong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


In a globalising world, cities find themselves competing for visitors, residents, investors, and companies. They use place branding strategies to become more visible. However, conceptual and analytical confusion exists on the subjects of place image and brand identity, and current studies are limited to single cities, neglecting inter-city relationships at the regional level. In this paper, we examine how place image and brand identity of cities in polycentric regions can be compared with each other. Inspired by Zenker and Beckmann’s network analysis approach for studying place branding (J Place Manag Dev 6(1): 6–17, 2013), a method is introduced to compare image and identity networks for polycentric regions. We use this to complement traditional steps of concept mapping (i.e. elicitation, mapping, and aggregation), and apply it to analyse the illustrative case of four cities in the MRDH region within the Netherlands. Results of the comparative analysis between the image network and the identity network provide both visual and quantitative insights revealing structural differences. The network analysis research approach can be useful to both policy-makers and researchers in analysing city image and brand identity, and to develop place branding strategies accordingly, even at the regional level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-96
Number of pages17
JournalPlace Branding and Public Diplomacy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Brand identity
  • City branding
  • Network analysis
  • Place image
  • Polycentric regions

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