Tuesday, 21 August 2007


We’ve had the good fortune to work on a number of place brands recently, including brands for Wirral, Sefton, Manchester, Salford and now, Pennine Lancashire. One piece of pure, raw inspiration for this work is the Chinese-American geographer Yi-Fu Tuan whose thoughts on ‘psychogeograpy’ and what he calls ‘topophilia’ are really powerful.

Our work with Peter Saville on the brand for Pennine Lancashire has developed a wide range of visual themes exploring landscape, connectivity and diversity. As a starting point for their deliberation, the design team here at Creative Concern were embracing this concept of ‘topophilia’, a phrase coined by the Yi-Fu Tuan in his 1973 book of the same name.

Literally meaning ‘Love of Place’, topophilia moves beyond what has become known as ‘sense of place’ branding or ‘placemaking’ and reaffirms the need for place branding to be more about emotional connection, knowledge and belonging. As an approach it helps to strengthen ownership of a brand and as a result leads to a more robust and longer-lasting brand that draws people and organisations toward it; it helps creatives to develop a brand that acts as a rallying point or focus of shared attention.

Here are some words from his book of the same name:

“The word ‘topophilia’ is a neologism, useful in that it can be defined broadly to include all of the human being’s affective ties with the material environment. These differ greatly in intensity, subtlety and mode of expression. The response to environment may be primarily aesthetic: it may then vary from the fleeting pleasure one gets from a view to the equally fleeting but far more intense sense of beauty that is suddenly revealed. The response may be tactile, a delight in the feel of air, water, earth. More permanent and less easy to express are feelings that one has toward a place because it is home, the locus of memories, and the means of gaining a livelihood.” Yi-Fu Tuan, Topophilia

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