Blending social anthropology and psychology into this analysis of urban branding, Govers touts dramatic ideas that he feels are worth the cost and challenges of implementation. He asserts that communities must reject traditional media campaigns and instead use modern technological tools, citing augmented-reality phone apps that create projections of the Berlin Wall and Rome’s Coliseum in its heyday. He also advises thinking in terms of time as well as space, highlighting Oslo’s Future Library, a century-spanning literary project.
Govers shines when providing examples of imaginative initiatives, including Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission, Estonia’s invention of Skype and declaration that internet access is a human right, and Dubai’s palm-shaped artificial islands. Examples from South America and Africa are conspicuously lacking, and minimally useful tables and graphs intrude on the otherwise gripping descriptions of communities engaging with international audiences by communicating their values across different cultures and lifestyles. But this book will thrill municipal leaders, city planners, globalists, and sociologists with practical steps for implementing creative ideas that will invigorate community spirit and bring in tourist dollars.
Takeaway: Community leaders, city planners, and policy makers will appreciate these practical guidelines for implementing projects that build and communicate community identity.
Great for fans of Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, Bill Baker’s Place Branding for Small Cities, Regions, and Downtowns.
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: A-
‘I am a big believer in the power of purpose: that companies and individuals should have a meaningful purpose that guides their thinking, decisions, and actions. But until I read Robert Govers' Imaginative Communities, the thought of applying purpose at the community level never occurred to me. Read this brilliant book and you, too, will see how to bring a sense of belonging and meaningful purpose to your communities, no matter their size.’
‘It has been said that countries should measure their gross national imagination, a critical resource for success in the twenty-first century. This important new book shows why this is crucial in an age of fractured identity – and how so many places have forged initiatives that put themselves on the map but also inspire the rest of the world.’
‘Robert Govers has written a terrific book. With miraculous clarity he guides the reader on a world tour of the subject of community reputation and its management. He presents a breathtaking range of places and kinds of actors – cities, regions and nation states – from the Americas to Central Asia and on to the Pacific. His examples are new, thought provoking and illuminated by his personal experience as a researcher and consultant. Best of all, his conclusion underlines the need for citizens to focus not on presenting a better image but on building for a better reality.’
‘A really important addition to our understanding of people, places and their purpose. Govers’ book is a refreshing and highly readable departure from “practitioner” texts that simply apply tired marketing principles to the management and promotion of places. Incisive and genuinely thought provoking, this book deserves a place on the desk of every senior policy-maker in national, regional and city governments worldwide.’