chapter  5
40 Pages

Branding urban space

Processes and paradox
BySonia Bookman

This chapter considers how urban brands and branding intervene in and shape configurations of urban space and everyday life. It begins by unpacking the notion of urban branding, including the various processes and practices involved, aims and goals, and the complexity of urban brand management. The chapter then outlines some of the social and cultural implications of urban brands, focusing on issues of gentrification and urban governance, with an emphasis on security. Drawing on an empirical case study of the Exchange District brand, in the city of Winnipeg, Canada, the chapter then considers some of the complex ways in which urban brands unfold through entanglements with a range of actors acting in specific locations. Moving beyond gentrification, it highlights the intra-class tensions that emerge among middle class residents, workers, and visitors, based on divergent practices and notions of ‘creativity’ and visions of a creative neighborhood. The case study further examines the contradictory performances of those enrolled in securing the Exchange District brand, and the unanticipated effects of such activity. Overall, the chapter cautions against attributing too much power to urban brands and branding, which are seen as contingent, open, ongoing processes subject to disruption and reworking from within as well as outside of their bounds.