Linking spatial planning and place branding strategies through cultural narratives in places

Sara Grenni, L.G. Horlings*, K. Soini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
217 Downloads (Pure)


Place branding refers to the creation of value in space by reinforcing and representing place assets in a cohesive manner, as a narrative image of the place itself. Such narratives of place are important in planning as well, when developing (strategic) spatial strategies. We argue that place branding and planning can be bridged, through cultural narratives built on local knowledge and the perceived meanings and images of place. However, there is a knowledge gap on how to build cultural narratives in multi-stakeholder processes. While participatory planning methods are increasingly applied, we argue for a greater role of art and arts-based methods. Accordingly, our key question is, how can arts-based methods support the creation of cultural narratives for place branding and planning? To address this question, we outline an approach based on the principles of Appreciative Inquiry. The approach is illustrated through a case study in Finland where we initiated a process of co-creation of place-based narratives. We analyse how the process was organized and facilitated, and what the challenges and lessons learnt were. The paper ends with a discussion, and draws conclusions on the relevance of arts-based methods for the wider debate on place branding and spatial planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1355-1374
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number7
Early online date19-Dec-2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Participatory planning
  • place branding
  • narrative
  • appreciative inquiry
  • art-based methods
  • place-based development
  • CITY

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