City Branding: An Austin Case Study




Barakat, Lina

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Globalization and changing power dynamics amongst nation-states has created new opportunities for smaller entities, like cities, to partake in international affairs and discussions. While global cities already have established economic and political roles on a global level, city leaders and stakeholders in emerging cities around the world have begun looking for ways to capitalize on their economic and political potential. One viable strategy for achieving this is city branding. The branding process helps highlight place-based attributes and collective experiences of people within the city in order to make a city more competitive while simultaneously creating a clear path forward. The city of Austin is a prime candidate for such a project because it is currently experiencing a crisis of identity at a critical growth point. After several years of rapid economic growth, city leaders and the stakeholders need to reassess the priorities and values of the city to ensure a clear path forward both at the local and global level. A city branding project would not only help contend with the competing visions that are found within the city but also help navigate the pitfalls created by such rapid growth. This thesis presents the tagline “In this Together” for Austin because not only does it help align stakeholders and local leaders under one prevailing idea, it also builds in the flexibility and innovation that has become emblematic of the city. It helps reframe the city’s priorities to ensure that the people are at the forefront because they ultimately ensure the legitimacy of the brand. Essentially, the idea here is that city branding can offer a framework within which important conversations can be had by city leaders and stakeholders about the priorities and values of a city and how those translate to real actions and change that happen at both the local and global level.



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