The Rise of Branding in Governance Processes
In July 2007 the Dutch minister Ella Vogelaar launches a policy plan on urban renewal called Action Plan Power Communities (VROM 2007). The aim of the policy is to improve the situation in 40 Dutch communities where the quality of the living environment lags behind other Dutch communities due to an accumulation of social and economic problems. With this plan, the minister follows up on the coalition agreement, which used the term “problem communities.” In the policy plan, the ministry explains that the name has been changed from problem communities to “power communities” for two reasons: ﬁ rstly because the term problem community insuffi ciently reﬂ ects the positive aspects of the communities, and secondly because the people in the communities think that the term problem community does not reﬂ ect their perception of the community (VROM 2007). From then on, the ministry’s urban renewal policies acquire a clear name: the power community policy. By introducing the distinguishing term power communities and associating the policies with positivity, power, and belief in the people, the ministry brands its policies on urban communities. By taking into account the perception of the communities, both the policies and the minister are positioned as responsive and empathic. It is noteworthy that the policies are branded not only in terms of their content, but also in terms of the process. The ministry stresses repeatedly that the policy plan is the result of a process in which the minister visited the communities to listen to their ideas.