Handbook of Cultural and Heritage Management


5.2. Branding: Shaping identities for regions and municipalities


As mentioned in chapter 2 the strengthening of strong local identities is an essential asset both for inner social cohesion and for economic growth. The local authorities, who play a pivotal role in social and economic life, are most appropriate for safeguarding and valorizing these identities and setting them in motion in an effort to effectively brand local physiognomy. The regions are attributed the same obligations as the municipalities as they represent, activate and thus manage a larger number of resources pointing at a wider scope of interventions.

Talking about culture and heritage management, the basic principles which lie within the agenda of the regions and municipalities follow the EU policies and related tools and mechanisms for distribution, monitoring and control of public resources.


The primary objectives the municipal and regional authorities should focus on are oriented towards:

●       Establishment of sustainable culture development modes which preserve the attainments and at the same time create conditions for potential prosperity of this sector.

●       Gradual formation of pre-conditions for diversity and quality development in culture supply to respond the needs defined by demand side

●       Initiation of international cultural cooperation through enhancing the possibilities of meeting people, peer education, training and capacity building activities, communication and advertising, campaigning, etc.

●       Fundraising and utilization of transnational experience, best practice exchange and formation of strategic partnerships.

The regions and municipalities are those which can identify, signify, and valorize their natural and cultural potential and use it for development of related sectors while assigning branches such as tourism, service provision, local production.

Furthermore, the cultural management contributes fully to a sustainable future, building links between place, time and character and contributing to distinctiveness at local, regional and national levels. It is a major contributor to quality of life across the region, creating places to work, live and relax. This is also reflected in regeneration, tourism and recreation strategies and policies implemented by the municipalities. Culture and heritage management contributes to social inclusion and becomes a significant part of everyday life, promotes better information, use of technology, and effective and meaningful community involvement.


Modalities explored at local/regional level


1.      Natural heritage

The natural landscape has been appreciated for its aesthetic and natural beauty. It can be managed effectively only if the interaction between the human factor and nature is understood, appreciated, and reflected in policy and delivery. Local authorities and related agents shall ensure that conservation of the natural environments is effectively integrated at all levels.

2.      Marine and Coastal Heritage

Coastal and marine ecosystems support the places’ functioning and provide uncountable economic benefits. The attractive natural resources to be found along waterways and around the coast mean that much past human activity was centred on these places of the landscape through seafaring and other maritime activities, or by living at and using the coast.

3.      Immovable tangible Heritage

The history of the monuments, buildings, streets, districts and residents should be regarded as the core substance of the urban cultural heritage (historic places, towns and cities). Man-made cultural environment and the shaped natural environment reflects the interaction between man and nature: architecture, sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, with outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science.

4.      Movable tangible Heritage

“Movable heritage” defines natural or manufactured objects and collections of heritage significance, usually products of human skills with symbolic and/or aesthetic value. Among these, culture-based goods which do not have specific social values but a cultural value that exceeds their mere economic value  and can be stored, individually or in collections, and exhibited in museums, private houses, galleries, archives, libraries, warehouses, etc. (Moreno et al. 2004, Moreno et al. 2005).

5.      Intangible cultural heritage

Intangible cultural heritage is linked to lifestyles, customs and traditions or living expressions inherited and passed on to the next generations. The UNESCO definition mentioned in chapter 3 is comprehensive, yet on a practical level intangible heritage includes oral traditions, music, performing arts, narratives and literature, social practices, rituals, festive events, food and skills related to nutrition, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, traditional arts and crafts.

6.      Cultural Landscapes

Cultural landscapes are often the result of one person or group of people acting upon the land. Cultural landscapes include grand estates, farmland, public gardens and parks, college campuses, cemeteries, scenic highways and industrial sites. Both rural and urban, are also important physical evidence of land use, building a record of the changing shape of the settlements. Landscapes exist in relationship to their ecological contexts: as texts and narratives of cultures, they are valuable expressions of regional identity.

7.      Tourism

Cultural management is undoubtedly related to the tourism industry and clearly associated more specifically with cultural tourism tourism. Tangible and intangible heritage as well as artistic production are clearly connected with place and time, providing important incentive for tourism development and branding of a place.


In many cases, intangible heritage is blended with tangible heritage and cultural/natural landscapes in order to create entities on which branding of a region relies: for example mythology is part of the intangible heritage which, if blended with archaeological remains, can create excellent branding material: particularly if it is firmly supported by scientific research, it creates a very solid substratum of veracity which can attract visitors and add a strong element to local identity. Similarly, the living heritage of great personalities, particularly if combined with some material remain (the house they lived in, the monastery they built, their first invention etc) adds considerably to the cultural atmosphere of a region.


Cultural branding is something from which the local communities can learn, be together in a shared sense of belonging and welfare and something from which the local economy benefits. It can be a stimulus to creative new architecture and design, a force for regeneration and a powerful contributor to people’s quality of life. It is within the agenda that will follow the H2020 policies to promote research of the past in order to fuel innovation for the future; local communities will play an important role in this process.