Transformative city branding for policy change: The case of Seoul’s participatory branding

Yu Min Joo, Bokyong Seo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


City branding has been widely adopted by entrepreneurial local governments to strengthen city identities and to attract global attention amid intensified intercity competition. Asian global cities, in particular, have competitively branded themselves to signal that they belong to the group of advanced global cities. This paper illustrates the transformative role of city branding in the making of a global city’s local identity, which has been hitherto underexplored in the literature. Specifically, it examines Seoul’s branding exercises, focusing on its unconventional projects that reflect the city’s recent efforts to become a “human-centered,” progressive city. We suggest adding a “transformative-enhancing” dimension to the existing “external–internal” city-branding framework, and argue that Seoul’s transformative city branding is, in fact, communicating the mayor’s new signature policies with citizens. When combined with a strong mayor’s efforts to cater to changing societal pressures, city branding is no longer solely a neoliberal marketing exercise, but a political project of policy change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-257
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian global city
  • city branding
  • policy change
  • public participation
  • Seoul

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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