Urban Rebranding Background information
You are unlikely to have come across 'Rebranding urban places' as a topic at GCSE. It is closer to the areas of research in Geography at degree level and beyond. There are lots of examples of urban rebranding throughout the British Isles.
Rebranding is making changes to a place to alter people's ideas of it as a place. Any rebranding process includes one or more of the following:
■environmental rebranding - to improve building quality and reduce dereliction
■social rebranding - to reduce poverty
■economic rebranding - to increase job opportunities
■political rebranding - successful bids for grants e.g. EU, National Lottery
(a) Time to rebrand
There are social, economic and environmental problems in many urban places.
• Social - high crime rate, antisocial behaviour, low-achieving schools
• Economic - high unemployment rate, few job opportunities
• Environmental - disrepair and neglect
In recent years, one response to the problems faced by urban settlements has been to set up flagship projects which aim to change local people's perceptions and to bring job opportunities and further investment to the area. A particular focus for many projects has been CBDs and 'problem estates'. This section looks at rebranding in the CBD in more detail.
Why have CBDs declined?
■shops locating out of town (lower land costs, lower business rates, larger out-of-town sites allow larger stores where more of the product range can be displayed, attractive to affluent customers because of free car parking and less congestion)
(b) Rebranding strategies
A number of strategies have been designed to help CBDs fight back against increasing number of out-of-town shopping centres:
■establishing a town centre management and marketing team
■building undercover streets and shopping centres
■encouraging the development of cultural quarters and specialist areas
■making cities safer with video surveillance
■cleaning-up old buildings and restoration of the historic and cultural heritage
■developing new facilities for leisure and retail (e.g. flagship centres)
■improving public transport (e.g. development of trams)
■developed cultural and artist specialisms as catalysts for regeneration
■used sport and associated industry as a catalyst for re-imaging
■planning car parking to ensure ease of access across the city
■allowing the sympathetic redevelopment of old buildings for accommodation to encourage residents back into the city centre
(c) Managing urban rebranding
The aim of rebranding strategies is to reduce the problems faced by urban areas.
(i) Economic benefits of rebranding
■new jobs (e.g. tourism, technology development and local management) to replace jobs lost in manufacturing industry.
■increases in the average wage
■more disposable income for local people, so they can spend more on local shops and servies - leading to a local multiplier effect
(ii) Social benefits of rebranding
■increased access to shops and services
■improvements to local skill levels
(iii) Environmental benefits of rebranding
■new uses of derelict buildings; improves landscape and appearance
■higher wages fund home and garden improvements by local residents
Questions to investigate
There are three stages in investigating urban rebranding. You can investigate one, two or three of the stages.
(a) Time to rebrand - why does place X need rebranding?
(b) Rebranding strategies - how can urban places be improved? who is making rebranding happen?
(c) Managing urban rebranding - how successful has rebranding been?