The importance of brand architecture for the place brand management: the case of Orvieto (Italy)

di Fabio Forlani e Simone Splendiani

Paper presentato a: Inaugural Annual Conference of the International Place Branding Association (IPBA). London (Middlesex University), 7-9 December 2016


The place brand is a key asset for the competition among tourist destinations (Ritchie and Ritchie, 1998; Buhalis, 2000; Gnoth, 2002; Morgan et al., 2002; Kerr, 2006; Hankinson, 2007; Baker and Cameron, 2008; Kavaratzis, 2004, 2012; Hanna and Rowley, 2011, 2015). This is proper especially nowadays, due to recent changes in demand, characterized by the research of symbolic and experiential content (Andersson, 2007; Morgan et al., 2009; Rageh et al., 2013; Neuhofer et al., 2012, 2014). However, it turns out to be very difficult to apply effective strategies of destination branding, especially in contexts where the tourism offer is characterized by fragmentation and lack of strategic co-operation (Bonetti et al., 2006; Sciarelli, 2007; Pencarelli and Gregori, 2009; Aureli and Forlani, 2015). The aim of the research is to analyse the case of Orvieto, a city of great historical, artistic and cultural importance, located in the Umbria region. Orvieto is a prime example of a place with a remarkable tourist potentiality which is not sufficiently overworked and with inferior results (arrivals, presences and international visibility) than destinations of the same level (e.g. other cities of Tuscany). The goal of this work is to understand whether the problem is to be traced in the excessive fragmentation of the communication of the offer, and, in particular, in an inappropriate management of the architecture of the place brand (Aureli and Forlani, 2016). Moreover, through the work on the data of the Orvieto case, we will try to identify the possible option of the modalities of integration of the brand of the city, of the area, of the attractions, of the events and of the operators (single or/and associated).

The analysis focuses on the public entity (the municipality of Orvieto) and other 8-10 interesting subjects from the point of view of brand policies. The case study (Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 2003) of Orvieto has been chosen because of some characteristics as the quality of the attractions (Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Well and wine and food) and particular features of the local system (several small operators). These features make it an ideal case to study the policies related to the brand architecture (Aaker, 2004; Dooley and Bowie, 2005; Uggla, 2006; Moilanen, 2008; Chailan, 2008, 2013).

The analysis of brand policies is carried out observing the actions undertaken by the local actors. It is developed through desk analysis, using in-depth interviews and focus group to the persons responsible for communication policies. The performance achieved in terms of brand image (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1998) is measured through: the online visibility (assessed through an index); tourists’ perceptions evaluated by the analysis of on-line reviews and consumer satisfaction survey.




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