A study on the potential for historic preservation as a place branding tool for cities



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This research was conducted to seek answers to these questions: 1. To what extent could historic properties in the city represent a place brand image of that city in the early twenty-first century? 2. Could historic preservation be an effective tool for place branding? Contemporary cities in the world fiercely compete with others nowadays, so cities have wanted to distinguish themselves from others. This phenomenon has encouraged cities to use a conventional commercial marketing strategy, branding. When branding is used to promote a place, we call it place branding. If a fundamental aim of place branding is to distinguish one city from another, the notion of place branding would be closely related to the discussion on contemporary historic preservation's role in urban development. The common target market of twenty-first-century cities is talent, who, in turn, will be a magnet for global industry. As the talent tends to seek diverse urban life, cities have actively made efforts to revitalize and market their downtowns. In this regard, historic preservation can help cities retain their unique character and diversity of urban fabric in downtown areas. Consequently, historic preservation can provide cities a foundation upon which they can develop their unique place brands that attract talent. At the same time, historic properties can be used as a marketing resource for place branding. In addition to the theoretical discussion on the potential for historic preservation as a place branding tool, this thesis incorporates an empirical study on relocation guides officially published by Texas cities, including Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, and San Antonio. This study aims to investigate where, how, and to what extent historic properties are represented in the official marketing publications.