عنوان مقاله [English]
Landscape, despite affecting the image and identity of the city, has no place in branding research. Research on landscape branding depends on identifying the factors that affect it. The purpose of this study is to determine the indicators of landscape branding. In order to achieve this goal, a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods has been used. In-depth review of previous studies to identify and classify the dimensions of landscape branding, forming an expert panel, compiling a questionnaire and screening components using results from fuzzy Delphi and the nonparametric Friedman test are the main steps of the present study. The problems caused by the lack of consensus on the main indicators of place branding are doubled in the field of landscape branding. Therefore, the first stage was dedicated to identifying and categorizing the components of landscape branding by applying the method of written content analysis. The findings of this stage identified 8 dimensions and 41 components. The components were then screened through fuzzy Delphi. According to experts, 8 dimensions (physical, cultural, political, economic, social, historical, environmental and media dimensions) were approved as dimensions of landscape branding, but the number of components was reduced to 26. Finally, the Friedman test calculations had an acceptable overlap with the Delphi results and confirmed the screening of the components. Interpretation of the findings also identified the physical dimension as the most important dimension of the process.
Despite the importance of landscape elements in forming cities’ image and identity, and consequently in the process of city branding, landscape branding does not have a proper position among various place branding studies. In order to address the issues of landscape branding, it is necessary to identify the factors that affect it. Determining the dimensions and indicators is one of the most difficult topics in urban branding and this difficulty is more noticeable whilst focusing on landscape branding. The main purpose of this study, however, is to overcome the mentioned difficulty and specify the indicators of landscape branding.
Due to the multi-dimensional essence of landscape branding, to achieve the research goal, a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods has been used in the present study. First, a comprehensive review of previous studies made it possible to identify and categorize landscape branding indicators. The next phase was forming a panel of experts, using a seven-point Likert scale questionnaire, and gathering the experts’ opinions to determine the importance of each Indicator. Expert panel sampling was done intentionally and selectively with 15 experts(Professors of landscape architecture, architecture, urban planning and design, and tourism management). The validity of the questionnaire, which is also associated with reliability in the Delphi method (Danaeifar and Mozaffari, 2008), was checked with 5 criteria including researcher sensitivity, methodological coherence, adequacy of sampling, simultaneous data collection and analysis, and theoretical thinking (Dehghani and Baghiri, 2014) ). The threshold is typically 0/7 but it varies based on the researcher’s opinion in different studies(Habibi et al., 2015). The threshold was 0/75 in this research. Screening criteria based on fuzzy Delphi results, and Friedman's nonparametric test, as two parallel paths, was the third and last main step of the research.
Results and discussion
The findings of the first phase identified 8 dimensions and 41 components for landscape branding. The components were then screened through fuzzy Delphi. At this stage, according to experts, the 8 dimensions (physical, cultural, political, economic, social, historical, environmental and media) were all approved, but the number of components was reduced to 26. Based on the findings, social, physical and cultural dimensions, each with 5 components has the highest number of effective components in the process. This shows the importance of these dimensions compared to other effective dimensions according to the experts, and can be considered in line with the superiority of social, physical and cultural dimensions in branding studies. In addition, at the end of de-fuzzification and before screening, the crisp value for four components of the physical dimension was greater than 0/95. The components discussed are: landscape correlation (crisp value: 0/99), visual landscape (crisp value:0/98), infrastructure (crisp value: 0/97) and landmarks (crisp value: 0/97). These findings confirm the greater importance of the physical dimension among all the 8 dimensions (as emphasized in : (Vela et al., 2017), (Campelo et al., 2010), (Tobias & Wahl 2013), (Moratouski, 2012) and (Anholt, 2006)). In contrast, the environmental dimension, with only 2 components in the final table, has the lowest means and Crisp value in fuzzy and de-fuzzy calculations; with 0/77 (l = 0/27, m = 0/34, u = 0/5) for environmental health index and 0/79 (l = 0/19, m = 0/41, u = 0/54) for environmental diversity index. Although in the review of landscape branding studies, the ranking of factors related to this process has not been discussed, but due to the emphasis on the importance of environmental factors in various city / landscape branding studies (for example (Zavarato, 2014), (Julier (2005), (Merrilees, 2013) and (Porter, 2016)) This result was unexpected. Also, according to experts, the most important index of each of the eight dimensions was determined. Thus, according to the minimum, average and maximum means in the radar charts, in the political dimension "responsibility" (crisp value: 0/93), in the social dimension "unity and compatibility" (crisp value: 0/96), in the physical dimension "landscape correlation"(crisp value: 0/99), in the media dimension "indirect presentation" (crisp value: 0/98), in the environmental dimension "environmental diversity" (crisp value: 0/79), in the economic dimension "economic structure" (crisp value: 0/99), in the historical dimension "spiritual landscape heritage" (crisp value: 0/93) and in the cultural dimension "distinct identity" (crisp value: 0/98), will be considered the most important and will play a more prominent role in the process of branding the landscape. Significant differences between the most important components of the environmental dimension compared to the most important components of other dimensions are noticeable and the reasons can be investigated in future studies and general statistical communities.
The research findings highlight the importance of applying a holistic approach in the process of landscape branding. An approach that combines objective and subjective aspects. At the same time, the findings show that the most important dimension of the branding process is the physical dimension, and this reveals the superiority of the objective aspect of the process compared to the mental aspect. In the cultural dimension, the higher value of "distinct identity" compared to "unity identity" indicates the superiority of the external dimension of identity over its internal dimension in the process of landscape branding. This finding can be considered as an indication that, in the opinion of experts on the paradox of singularity-similarity, which is considered as one of the most important challenges of landscape branding (Porter, 2016), the first aspect is more important. Accordingly, in the role of landscape elements to turn cities into brands, differentiation indicators play a more prominent role than familiarity indicators. Therefore, in the intense competition of cities, paying attention to the external dimension of identity can increase the chances of each city, to be remembered for a long period of time, and consequently, to gain continuous attention from visitors.
There is no funding support.
All of the authors approved the content of the manuscript and agreed on all aspects of the work.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declared no conflict of interest.
We are grateful to all the scientific consultants of this paper.