Seminar: 'City Branding'


School of Business Seminar Room, Building 27, Level 1

12.15pm to 1.15pm

Branding is a holistic approach to influencing consumer perceptions based on combining tangible and intangible aspects of a product to create a unique experience for every consumer. In the last thirty years, there has been a growing interest in the branding of cities from scholars across disciplines. City branding is generally concerned with the creation of perceived value and increasing competitiveness by encouraging tourism and investment while achieving community development and reinforcing local identity. A marketing oriented approach to city branding views cities as a form of product branding and focuses on creating expectations and experiences and communicating and promoting activities to bring tourists

This paper focuses on the Latin American city of Medellin, Colombia. This city has re-branded itself from ‘the most dangerous city in the world’ to a ‘model of social urbanism.’ By drawing from qualitative data collected in Medellin in 2014 and 2015, the paper analyses how by making improvements to the built environment, hosting international events and promoting social improvements in the city it has become increasingly attractive to visitors and investors. The paper then criticises the image portrayed through the branding of the city, arguing that it portrays an inaccurate representation of the daily realities faced by residents. Ultimately, this paper argues that city branding should not be viewed as a form of product branding, as cities are not products to be sold but living entities with complex economic, social and cultural aspects.


Caroline Doyle is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Business at UNSW Canberra. Caroline completed her PhD at the School of Business at UNSW Canberra in 2017. Her doctoral research focused on explaining how the city of Medellin, Colombia has reduced its homicide rate by more than 90 percent in under 30 years. Caroline has extensive fieldwork experience in Latin America. Her research interests include policy in developing nations, urban violence, organised crime and Latin American gangs. 

Caroline completed her Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the Australian National University and was admitted as a solicitor to the ACT Supreme Court in 2013. She also completed her Bachelor of Laws (Hons) at the University of Canberra in 2012 and her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Wollongong in 2005.