by ir. Lies Messely, dr. ir. Joost Dessein and dr. ir. Ludwig Lauwers
Within the globalizing world, regions and their identities are subjected to great pressure. At present, places are engaged in a process of “territorial competition” in an integrated world economy. The identity of the region can be used as a starting point to brand a region and differentiate it from others. In the regional branding process, the region as a whole becomes a product or brand and offers a “basket” of regional products and services. Regional branding is aimed at creating a more distinctive image or reputation, which helps to increase regional competitiveness. This paper discusses the possibility of regional identity as a mobilizing force for rural development, by studying best practice examples of regional branding. Using the grounded theory approach, we conducted interviews in three case regions: West Cork (Ireland), Groene Woud (the Netherlands) and Pajottenland (Belgium). The study of these cases led to the formulation of critical success factors on the organization of regional branding. Comparative analysis of the cases demonstrates the importance of passionate initiators as ambassadors of the region and the advantage of a well-coordinated internal network in the region. Next to that, the internal marketing of the region is considered an important critical success factors.