Urban branding characteristics – Kuala Lumpur

Back in the past, Kuala Lumpur was a small tin mining settlement with temporary dwellings. As for today, Kuala Lumpur were governed by targeting the city to be a World-Class City by 2020 through translation of Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 that emphasises the vision of enhancing the city development to cater the demanding to become the powerhouse for Malaysia. Outlining goals, development strategies and policies of development into strategic directions including the determination of land use and development for each property lot in Kuala Lumpur, this has been part of well-defined strategies in order to maintain the growth and to secure the future development which mainly originated from global competitiveness where cities need to act and compete in global hierarchy. Branding has become top priority for global positioning as to produce a unique and attractive offerings that satisfies the rational and needs to perform competitive advantages. In order to understand the current conditions of today’s globalisation and urbanisation, this thesis seeks coordinated understanding about urban branding characteristics that occurred throughout the world cities, perspectives of world cities strategies and theoretical framework occurred, and efforts of branding cities as one of methods to enhance attractiveness particularly in Kuala Lumpur.
This thesis starts by ingraining the perception of world class city considered an important node in the global economic system with major international cultural and commercial centre positioned in the capital city. A critical review of literature on the evidence of defined strategy pertaining the world-class theory, characteristics, hierarchy, urban branding theories and strategies expanding the aim to use this evidence as far as possible as a framework to identify which characteristic accepted for Kuala Lumpur and understanding what a world class city should be. Kuala Lumpur provides a particularly interesting case study as a rapidly growing city with a tropical climate, a context where there has been relatively different from other cities. The main empirical analysis in the thesis uses data obtained from Kuala Lumpur City Hall, agencies related to development and literature reviews mainly to learn their views on what world class city and urban branding relationship should be. This thesis principally relies on growing of concepts of ‘World-class City’ as well as other theories considering image-making and urban branding.

Data gathering and information regarding on attributes to build a strong understanding analysis were conducted through publication and qualitative interviews via purposeful sampling. In recommendation, the city’s unique characteristics are identified based on interviewees’ explanation and Anholt’s (2006) city branding model. A better understanding about the orientation of Kuala Lumpur branding can be significantly viewed which later on can be used as selling point of the city, to help stimulate further detail discussion regarding the urban branding label used specifically Kuala Lumpur as World Class City and initiated explorative measures and effective branding strategies for elements, values and personalities identified to gain favourable image for Kuala Lumpur.

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