A city branding framework for selected cities in the North West Province
Cities are faced with increased competition to attract and retain residents. Due to globalisation, residents now have a choice where they want to live, work and stay. Cities must therefore investigate how the use of branding strategies can increase their competitive advantage. Residents, like consumers, have needs and wants and therefore it is important that cities understand the role that branding and marketing can play to position themselves as a place where residents want to live. In the academic field, several international researchers have published articles on place/city marketing and also place/city branding, but within the South African context there is limited research available on these topics. The primary objective of this study is to develop a city branding framework within a South African context. To achieve the primary objective, secondary objectives were established to measure the level of experience and importance of the city branding factors. From the results, importance–performance matrixes were developed. This study also aims to confirm and expand the existing marketing theory in terms of city branding within a South African context. The literature review of this study indicated that traditional marketing and branding philosophies can be applied to places and cities. The reason is that residents of cities should be treated as consumers who have needs and wants. By understanding the needs and wants, city marketers and local policy-makers are able to satisfy these needs and wants, thus creating satisfied residents. Using branding strategies, cities can develop relationships between residents and the city, which in turn creates a competitive advantage for the city. Various existing city branding frameworks/models were investigated, and these frameworks were used and adapted to develop the questionnaire used in this study. The study was conducted among permanent residents in Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp and Rustenburg, with a total of 603 residents interviewed. This study made use of a descriptive research design where primary data was collected using a structured questionnaire. The data obtained were analysed using SPSS 22.0, AMOS 22.0 and Statistica software to conduct descriptive analysis, inferential analysis and also factor analysis. Existing literature indicated 13 city branding factors, but the results of this study revealed only 11 city branding factors to be included in branding strategies for the specific cities. This 11-factor model presented better goodness-of-fit scores than the 13-factor model, and therefore it is recommended that the 11 city branding factors should rather be used. The “Education” factor scored the highest level of experience, with the “Vision and strategy” factor scoring the lowest level of experience. The study also determined the most important factors for residents, namely “Education”, “Medical”, “Safety”, “Housing”, “Employment” and “Business”. By using the level of experience and importance, it was possible to developed importance–performance matrixes for the different cities. These matrixes can assist city marketers and policymakers to develop detailed branding strategies with the aim of retaining residents and attracting them to these cities. Local government plays a pivotal role in city branding and is therefore one of the stakeholders which can utilise this study. It is recommended that local government, business owners and city marketers work together to improve the city branding factors which are important to residents but are not performing so well. Following this strategy would prevent resources from being wasted and enable strategies to be focused and more effective. It is crucial that the economic growth of these cities improves, as this will lead to more employment opportunities, increased salary levels and more affordable housing. City marketers must capitalise on the current level of education available in these cities, as this factor is important to residents and the performance level is high. It is suggested that the study also be conducted among residents of rural and larger urban cities to determine whether the results could differ and to further add to the existing literature available.
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