Evolution in city branding practices in China's Pearl River Delta since the year 2000

Haiyan Lu, Martin de Jong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Place branding is a growing academic field, and the number of studies about place branding has proliferated in the literature in recent years. However, how the organizational environment around Chinese cities affects city branding strategies is still understudied. This contribution examines how the use of city labels has evolved in the Pearl River Delta since 2000 and explains the changes by three possible propositions: (1) self-reflection based on a city's economic and regional position, (2) vertical inspiration from the national and provincial level governments, and (3) horizontal imitation from fellow municipal governments. It appears that cities in the Pearl River Delta encouraged the tertiary sector and pursued green images in their labelling choices until 2015. Municipalities tended to follow policies formulated by higher level governments and practices of pioneer cities, while since 2015 their strategies have become more self-reflective, mature and consistent. Compared with Western cities, municipal branding is more sensitive to influence from higher level government policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-166
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • City branding
  • City label
  • Evolution
  • Pearl River Delta
  • Place branding

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