From city branding to urban transformation: How do Chinese cities implement city branding strategies?

W. Ma

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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Chinese cities have experienced unprecedented economic growth and urban population expansion in the last four decades. However, a variety of social and environmental problems is associated with urbanization. Cities try to grapple with these challenges but simultaneously find themselves locked in an intense competition with other cities. City branding is viewed as an essential strategy to remain competitive, improve their environmental performance, experience a sustainable urban transformation. However, very little is known about how cities actually implement city branding strategies. This study distinguishes the concepts in use and explores the evolution of research in place branding literature. A progressive relationship between city promotion, city marketing and city branding is proposed and empirically examined. Subsequently, a specific city brand is explored to study how different policy instruments are adopted and configured to realize urban transformation goals. Finally, a detailed investigation in a medium-sized Chinese city shows how stakeholders interact with city policymakers to create and implement city brands. The findings show that cities can apply promotion, marketing or branding strategies to achieve different urban development goals. The study concludes that to successfully implement city branding, extensive stakeholder participation, continuous political commitment and reasonable application of policy instruments are necessary.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Veeneman, W.W., Supervisor
  • de Jong, W.M., Supervisor, External person
  • de Bruijne, M.L.C., Advisor
Award date23 Feb 2021
Print ISBNs978-94-6366-372-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • city branding
  • Urban transformation
  • sustainability
  • Chinese cities
  • Policy implementation
  • Policy Instruments
  • Low carbon city


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