CO-CREATING THE PLACE BRAND OF FINNISH LAPLAND : Mental associations and visual representations
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Brands are living in an era of customer-centric life where alltheir potential, present and former customers are regardedas co-creators. The center of attention is in customers’ daily lives and they have an enormous amountofpower to influence on brands.Social media hasaccelerated the pace of communication and this has connected also cities and counties into the new brand co-creation paradigm. Places have adopted branding practices from the business world to persuadepeople to move, do business or travel in their area. In Finland, Lapland has been one of the first counties to execute place branding activities considering the tourism planning which started already in the 1980’s.The aim of this studyis to analyze the place brand associations that Finnish Lapland generates as well as contribute to the understanding of place brand co-creation process in Lapland.The theoretical framework of this study consistsof place branding, brand co-creation and stakeholder theories which form the base for empirical observations. The empirical data includes visual and verbal elements: photographs from House of Laplands’ Instagram accounts as well as interview materials. The research method is qualitative combining semi-structured interviews, thematic analysis and visual methods to create an image of mental associations that theplace brand of Finnish Lapland evokes.Through the analysis of interview data, the brand co-creation process and understanding of Laplands’place brand is examined. The results show that Finnish Lapland has a strong place brand which is remarkable in Finnish scale as majority of other counties are launching their branding activities.Laplands’ place brand was associated with nature, internationality,location-specific characteristics andtourismfrom which the nature was considered as the prime characteristic of the brand.The brand development work has beenmainlyproject-based until establishment of the Official Marketing and Communication House of Laplandin 2015.This was reflected in the results as an unclear image of the brand creation process in Lapland.Despite this, results indicated that stakeholders working in relation to Laplands’ branding have a shared vision of the future development points of the brand.Functional infrastructure and accessibility were regardedas the competitive advantages of Finnish Lapland when compared tonearby competitors Sweden and Norway.This research supports the findings of earlier studies considering the importance of authentic visual materials in place branding activities. Furthermore, this case study demonstrated that stakeholders who can relate to the marketing pictures used by place branders in Lapland have clearer image of the brand since they can relate to the already existing place brand as the way it is marketed.Based on the results,branding activities in Lapland will face challenges common to the public sector as Lapland hasa public co-created brand which encompasses authentic features of a vastregion including different people, different natural conditions and different cultures.Keywords: Place branding, brand co-creation, stakeholder approach, brand identity, brand image, Lapland
Master's thesis Innovative governance and public management ME523 - University of Agder 2019
PublisherUniversitetet i Agder ; University of Agder
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internasjonal
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