Urban areas in the global South are often characterised by the presence of extensive informal, high-density settlements with poor access to infrastructure and public facilities, and unclear status of land and property ownership (Kustiwan et al., 2015). The term ‘kampong’, originally from a Malay or Indonesian word, has been used to represent this situation, in which urban areas still have the sociocultural and economic characteristics of the rural realm in Indonesia (Dovey and King, 2011; Sullivan, 1986). Whilst kampongs face various environmental and social problems, they have significant economic potential. In Indonesia, for instance, kampongs have been homes to long-established community businesses which often are based on creativity, tradition and cultural values (Fahmi and Koster, 2017; Fahmi et al., 2016). It is to be expected that these entrepreneurial activities play a role in creating jobs and livelihoods for the inhabitants.
Today, creativity has emerged as an alternative to developing and revitalising urban environments, including kampongs. The emergence of global notions of the ‘creative economy’, ‘creative industries’ and the ‘creative city’, has promoted new imaginaries in urban development. Many local governments adopt these notions as a tool for urban economic development, innovation strategies as well as neighbourhood regeneration (Hall, 2000; Gibson and Homan, 2004; Pratt, 2008). Despite various criticisms, these notions of creativity have reshaped local institutions in designing and implementing development strategies (Fahmi et al., 2017; Gibson, 2015; Kong et al., 2006). Indeed, city branding has been used as a means to implement the idea of developing the creative city (Okano and Samson, 2010; Vanolo, 2008). In many cases, local governments use branding strategies such as these to communicate the objective of developing a creative city to local citizens as well as the outer world, such as potential tourists and investors. The ‘creative city’ notion has been utilised as a city-branding strategy by many local governments, particularly in Indonesia and other countries in the global South, to advertise the development policy of the localities (Li and Liu, 2019; Pratt, 2009; Vivant, 2013; Yujin, 2017). However, in many cases the branding is not translated clearly into policy actions, in that a label of the ‘creative city’ is used and promoted, but there are no clear strategies for supporting creativity and innovation in the creative sector (see also Kong et al., 2006; Fahmi et al., 2017, Joo and Heng, 2017).
Bandung is an example of a city that implements the concept of the creative economy. The introduction of ‘Bandung Creative City’ marked the emergence of an open governance approach which enabled collaboration among stakeholders in tackling urban development issues (Aritenang, 2013; Fahmi et al., 2017). This brand was developed to promote creative industries in Bandung, especially fashion, design, indie music and culinary (Prasetyo and Martin-Iverson, 2013). Recently, some community clusters have also been labelled ‘creative’ as they have become widely recognised as having a creative/cultural identity, as reflected by the clustered home industry in the kampongs (Bandung, 2017).
The creative kampong branding is also designated to attract tourists. As found in other contexts in the global South, this case shows that although informal settlements have been associated with ‘negative’ tones in the development, they are used as materials for city branding (Hernandez and Lopez, 2011). It is yet unclear as to what values informality adds to the place branding strategy, considering the creativity notions are usually associated with new knowledge and various resources in the ‘formal’ situation. Innovation is important to the creative sector, as it needs to develop new ideas and values in its products so that these can develop over time (Landry, 2000; Hesmondhalgh, 2013; Kong, 2014). Meanwhile, innovation in the context of the global South in general might be limited due to low cost and informality (Charmes, 2016). This indicates that creativity in informal settlements might be situated in different contexts, which would imply how place branding strategies can successfully be implemented.
This paper examines how informality is utilised in the branding of creative kampong and how this reshapes development in Suci area, Bandung, Indonesia. This paper contributes to understanding how globally recognised notions of creativity are interpreted and used as a tool for stimulating local development through place branding in a country of the global South. It also contributes to revealing the compatibility between informality and the creative economy notions, which can be contradictory: the creative economy emphasises the importance of innovation and intellectual property, practices which may be problematic in the informal economy. Suci screen-printing kampong illustrates the long-established cultural kampong which is reformed by the discourse on the creative economy in Bandung. The local government used the creativity notion to develop a renewed brand of the kampong, but the strategies were often unclear in responding to the specific characteristics of the informal economy. In this regard, it should be questioned as to whether the branding strategies promote creativity itself. In addressing this issue, we use Kavaratzis’s (2004) framework for analysing how the brand identity is developed by the government and how it creates a brand image among the wider audience.
The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. First, a literature review on city branding is presented with a particular focus on questions about the position of informality. The methodology employed in this study is then presented, followed by an overview of the case. The results of analysis are then presented, followed by the conclusion.
Literature review on informality and the branding of creative places
City branding is often used in many countries of the global South as a means of local development and marketing. The notion of city branding has drawn a significant interest in the past few years and is associated with attempts to promote urban development, regeneration and quality of life (Dinnie, 2011). City branding is deployed to enhance investment and tourism by achieving competitive advantage, and also to promote community development and reinforce local identity to avoid social exclusion and unrest (Kavaratzis, 2004).
A successful city branding consists of two phases: 1) the creative distinctive appeal or brand identity, and 2) awareness and esteem based on that appeal or brand image (Kavaratzis, 2004; Dinnie, 2011). In defining the distinctive appeal, local administrators must undertake a strategic examination of city potentials, which include core values, attitudes, behaviours and characteristics. These potentials can be developed into special skills, resources, competences and capabilities then formulated to the best blend in the frame of socioeconomic, environmental and technological development of the city (Kavaratzis, 2004; Dinnie, 2011).
The distinctive appeal can only evolve to a successful city brand if the comprehensive action plan is executed and followed by continuous communication with the target audiences, both internally and externally. Internal communication must be taken into account in the first place to succeed externally (Dinnie, 2011). The key internal stakeholders and the decision influencers in the community are crucial to constructing the brand identity which consists of features and beneficial attributes imbued in the brand. The marketers, in this context the local government, may choose the stressing point of symbolic, experimental, social and emotional values to create a brand positioning and be marketed to the consumers (De Chernatony and Dall’Olmo Riley, 1998). The result is the brand image which incorporates perceptions of quality and values as well as brand associations and feelings.
This study is focussed upon the localised strategy of creative city branding which is embodied in the form of ‘creative kampong’. In line with Prasetyo and Martin-Iverson (2013), creative kampongs can be viewed as the strategy to implement the development framework of the creative city at a more localised level. As such, in examining how informality is used in place branding we use the framework from Kavaratzis (2004), Kavaratzis and Ashworth (2006) and Middleton (2011). The city branding framework presented by Kavaratzis (2004) and Kavaratzis and Ashworth (2006) presents outlines the sequence of how branding can be conducted, including brand identity (how the producers want the brand to be perceived), brand positioning (value proposition that is being communicated to the target group) and brand image (how the brand is perceived by the target group). More specifically, Middleton’s (2011) concept underlines the importance of creative distinctive appeal in the positioning of brand identity and the awareness and esteem based on that appeal (brand image). With this framework we could identify how informality provides an added value both in the conceptualisation of the brand identity and communication of the brand image (see the framework in
Development potentials reflect the materials that can be used to develop brand identity. These potentials cover the core values, attitude, behaviour and characteristics of the place (Middleton, 2011), which in the kampong context are characterised by informality. In the following we present existing arguments on kampong which have shown that informality might be associated more strongly with problems, although it also plays a vital role in local livelihoods.
Kampong, formerly identified as ‘kampung pribumi’, emerged in the Dutch colonial era as the place where the native inhabitants resided in the modern cities set up. The term kampong is often described as the dichotomy of rural setting in an urban area and characterised by high-density neighbourhoods, poor infrastructure and access to social and public facilities, and an unclear status of land and property ownership (Kustiwan et al., 2015). Along with rapid urbanisation, kampong has become the solution to affordable housing for low-income people. Murray (1991) identifies kampong as the place where the lower-class community live, within the established ethnic segregation system and diverse economic activity in formal and informal sectors. The population inflow to cities from countryside was not followed by urban economic development. Thus, the majority of these migrants live and work in the frame of the informal sector: kampong and informal economy activity come together (McGee 1976; McGee and Yeung, 1978). Studies have thus far associated the term kampong with various problems related to informality. At the same time, informality offers potential to cope with these problems.
Informality has been considered a state of exception from the formal order of urbanisation caused by unplannable modalities (Bunnell and Harris, 2012; Roy, 2005). The informal economy which is located in informal spaces is an irrefutable phenomenon. This mostly emerges due to the limitations of access to resources for production activities as informal spaces are rarely designed for the purpose of economic activities (Tunas, 2008). The appropriation of public space for the informal economy involves communication and negotiation among members, and can lead to loosened control and stronger social ties which may create a sense of solidarity to achieve common goals.
The informal economy is beneficial for alleviating poverty, increasing job opportunities, supplying the formal sector with intermediary products, fostering adaptation and innovation and producing goods for the majority of low-income groups (Charmes, 2016). De Soto (1989) in Roy (2005) stated that the informal economy is a spontaneous and creative response of people to the incapacity of the state to satisfy the basic needs of the poor. Both the urban poor and the formal sector have benefited from the informal economy (Tunas, 2008). According to Charmes (2016) and Webb et al. (2009), the informal economy generates income and wealth.
According to Charmes (2016), employment in the informal economy consists of everyone working in the informal sector, everyone working informally in a formal sector, the household with paid employees, or own-account workers who are producing final goods in the household. The 15th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) (ILO 1993a; 1993b) defines the informal sector as enterprises of self-employed workers and informal employers (i.e. those providing informal employment to others). An informal sector is thus characterised by legal status, non-registration of economic units or employees, a small number of workers (engaged workers or paid employees), and usually has a small amount of production. Other characteristics shown in an informal sector are: a) low entry requirements in terms of capital and professional qualifications; b) unskilled labour, i.e. skills acquired from outside formal education; c) labour-intensive methods of production and simple/adapted technology; d) scarce capital, low productivity and minimal saving; e) an unregulated and competitive market; and f) family ownership of enterprises. Furthermore, according to the 17th ICLS (ILO, 2003), informal employment comprises all informal jobs in informal sectors, households, or formal sectors, and which lack social protection, do not provide social contributions and which lack employee benefits. As Webb et al. (2009) contend, one of the activities in this context is entrepreneurship. Another sector that can be found in the informal economy is that of household industries (Charmes, 2016). The informal economy includes a wide range of activities in different industrial sectors, from street vendors to informal garment businesses.
There are differing views on how policy strategies should respond to the informal economy. Whilst De Soto (1989 in Roy, 2005) regards formalisation as the right strategy to harness the potentials of wealth and income generation, ILO (1993b; 2003) tends to trivialise these potentials and notes the significant challenges to support the informal economy. In contrast to a common standard that has seen informality as a separate sector from the formal sector, Roy (2005) suggests that informality is a series of transactions that bridges various types of economies and spaces. Roy also argues that the idea of legalisation from De Soto produces a more problematic hypothesis. De Soto’s idea on the ‘legalised and legally recognised’ informal sector could not diagnose that there might be various processes that manifest degrees of power and exclusion.
The above explanation illustrates how a kampong and its SMEs solve its circumstances under various limitations in informal situations. This reflects that informality itself can used as a potential opportunity or resource through which to develop a brand identity. Nevertheless, it should be emphasised that the challenges of developing the informal economy in a kampong would require an assessment of what brand identity is most suitable for such contexts and what strategies should be implemented. In turn, these decisions and actions will influence the practices and strategies deployed in the stages of brand positioning and brand communication.
The development and proposition of a brand identity can be influenced by a wider context and a certain policy umbrella. In this instance, the creativity notion (e.g. the creative economy, the creative city, creative industries) is used in developing the brand identity. In the context of Indonesia, and possibly in other countries, despite various limitations in some elements, long-established kampongs cannot be separated from the role of the community who have lived in the kampong through generations and run the economic activity. Under the condition of survival, scarcity and constraints, the community continually practices the creative business at the home-industry level (Srinivas and Sutz, 2008). However, it is to be expected that there is a significant difference in the creativity that is represented in the kampong realms. Whilst the creative economy in general is associated with innovation and intellectual property (Hall, 2000; Pratt, 2008), the creative businesses in kampongs might have different characteristics of innovation. They could have skills and the ability in creating innovation driven by knowledge through adopting, adapting and improving available good ideas, practices and technologies in the economic cost production to serve the less-affluent consumers (Kraemer-Mbula and Wunsch-Vincent, 2016; Radjou et al., 2012). Many terms are used to define this particular innovation, such as ‘grassroots’ innovation, ‘base-of-the-pyramid’ (BoP) innovation, innovation ‘for the poor by the poor’, ‘frugal’, ‘jugaad’ and ‘inclusive’, although these terms are not synonymous (Gupta, 2013). Such innovation can often be found in the informal sector where the access to the capital and the market are limited compared to the formal sector. Nevertheless, innovation in the informal economy has various linkages with the formal sector, such as the knowledge, skill, capital and the people which often flow both ways (Ouedraogo et al., 2011). Most commonly, the popular pattern of innovation in the informal economy adapts the product from the formal mainstream market to the local and regular tools and materials to minimise the production cost (ILO, 1992; Kraemer-Mbula and Wunsch-Vincent, 2016). It remains a question as to how this particular type of creativity and innovation could provide an added value to city branding, so there is a need to look into this issue and how strategies are developed to respond to these specific characteristics.
Having local potentials (a distinctive identity, selling-point or competitive advantage) is an important starting point in constructing a brand identity, but local administrators need to identify how the brand has a position in the ‘market’. Brand positioning is basically a thorough assessment of opportunities that can be gained from branding (see Kavaratzis, 2004). It covers the important question of how certain atmospheres can be produced, wrapped, stored and marketed (Insch, 2014). Brand positioning can be operationalised as a contextualisation of the brand considering the external conditions from the socioeconomic, environment and technology development perspectives which then affect the atmosphere (Kavaratzis, 2004).
Further to brand positioning, actions and interventions should be conducted to realise the brand identity and communicate it to the target group. This is related to government interventions, policies and programmes which might stimulate changes and improvements in the city. Kavaratzis (2004) classifies these strategies as the ‘primary communication’ of the brand identity which consists of four main areas of intervention: 1) strategies for changing landscape (i.e. urban design, architecture, public spaces); 2) infrastructure projects, which aim at giving a distinct character; 3) the development of organisational and administrative structure; and 4) behaviour, including local leaders’ vision for the city, the strategy implemented or the financial incentives given to various stakeholders.
In the branding of creative places, the development strategies should align with the idea of the creative economy, that is, promoting creativity and value creation in the creative businesses. However, as creativity and innovation in this context are different, the strategies might not merely be related to promoting innovation. Rather, it could be that the strategies are focused on highlighting local cultural identity (see also Fahmi et al., 2017).
Apart from government intervention, actions can also be taken by the community residing in the kampong. SMEs in kampongs are concentrated in a certain region and usually collaborate with each other. Innovation in this area supports the entrepreneurs to build their collective identity and product brands (Bull et al., 2014). The mutual collaboration among the community in the kampong are not only economically beneficial, but also socially influential in the involvement of large groups in this process (Bull et al., 2014; Kraemer-Mbula and Wunsch-Vincent, 2016; Phelps and Wijaya, 2016). These clusters and strong ties in the informal economy help the rapid deployment of skills and knowledge aiming to solve problems (ILO, 1992; Sheikh 2014). As such, in the branding of creative kampongs, both the community initiative and government strategies could play a role in realising the branding strategy and influencing the development in kampong.
Awareness and esteem
The next step in city branding is to construct the brand image based on the chosen appeal to create awareness and esteem (Middleton, 2011). As discussed, the distinctive appeal explained above will become a successful brand if a strategic plan is well implemented and if that plan is constantly communicated to its target group (Middleton, 2011). This can also be referred to as secondary and tertiary communications of the brand. Secondary communication refers to the formal and intentional communication practices, such as advertising and public relations. Meanwhile, tertiary communication is related to word-of-mouth, reinforced by media and competitors’ communication (Kavaratzis, 2004). During this communication, the marketers of the brand can choose the stressing point of symbolic, experimental, social and emotional values (De Chernatony and Dall’Olmo Riley, 1998). As such, the brand identity that the producers develop can be perceived as a brand image by the target group.
A case study approach was employed in this paper, focused on Suci screen printing kampong. As Yin (1984) explains, a single case study is relevant for an in-depth analysis of a contemporary phenomenon and theory development from a specific situation. This method was used because Suci is a unique example of a kampong in which the local government of Bandung applied the creativity notion in its development. This adaptation led to the establishment of Suci screen printing ‘tourism kampong’ as apparent on the entrance board of the areas, showing the kampong title. Meanwhile, a considerable number of Bandung local and independent media stated Suci as a ‘creative kampong’ instead of ‘tourism kampong’. The titles often create a confusion of what Suci kampong really is, what function it plays, and how development strategies should be designed for Suci kampong based on its potentials.
The data used in this study were collected from a focus group discussion, analysis of policy documents discussing the innovation or creativity as a place-based process, as well as semi-structured interviews with several key stakeholders.
The focus group discussion was conducted with stakeholders related to the development of the creative city and kampongs in Bandung on 27 April 2017 with nine people, including local government officials from six departments (Agency of Small and Medium Enterprise, Agency of Culture and Tourism, Agency of Industry and Trade, Research and Development Board of Bandung, Economy Secretariat of Bandung City, Creative Economy Committee of Bandung), two academics from ITB, and Bandung Creative Community Forum (BCCF) as the representative from the community. In this meeting, we confirmed the development locus and focus of the creative city policy in Bandung, as well as how kampongs are positioned in the policy and its development strategies. This discussion provided an overview of all ‘creative’ kampongs in Bandung, their typology and characteristics.
The main policy document that was analysed was the 2014-2018 RPJMD (Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Menengah Daerah/Mid-Term Regional Development Plan) of Bandung City which contains information about the vision, mission, campaign pledges and the priority programme of the mayor and vice mayor. This plan aligns with Government Regulation number 8/2008 and the Regulation of Ministry of Home Affairs 54/2010 about the stages, formulation, control and evaluation toward the implementation of regional development planning. This document is positioned as guidance for the planning and development implementation of Bandung in the five-year period aligning with regional conditions, strategic programmes and issues, funding frameworks, performance indicators, and local financial management features. In analysing this document, we focus on the discussion of SMEs, creative economy and current tourism, problem identification, planning, and funding of both programmes.
In-depth interviews were conducted to produce a first-hand understanding of people and events. The interviews were conducted with two key informants in Suci Kampong and two local government bodies. The semi-structured interview was chosen because it has the flexibility to explore the respondent’s narrative on how they perceive kampong as both a place to live and produce creativity and innovation, as well as the implementation of the branding strategy in the kampong. In choosing the respondent, we used the snowball sampling method in which the respondent selection is based on the prior respondent who is assumed to have the knowledge and information about this issue. Interviews were conducted with three people within the kampong, including the head of the neighbourhood unit, the head of the youth community and a local actor. Each interview lasted around thirty minutes and attempted to examine the long history of Suci kampong in nurturing the screen printing ‘culture’. Interviewees from local government comprised officials of the Agency Small and Medium Enterprise (ASME) and the Agency of Culture and Tourism (ACT). These agencies were chosen with regard to their relation to the SME cluster and kampong programmes. This interview lasted about an hour, providing an understanding of the role of government in the kampong development.
Qualitative data analysis
In analysing how informality is utilised in the branding of Suci creative kampong, we employed qualitative data analysis methods, including content analysis and descriptive qualitative analysis. For the data from policy documents, content analysis was conducted. Content analysis enables the data analysis structured systematically and reliably to be extracted in making the generalisation of the categories of interest to the researcher (Haggarty, 1996). For this analysis, we used various data sources related to Bandung city branding strategy including several articles in local media, RPJMD 2014-2018, a booklet from ASME and several previous studies on SME clusters and creative kampongs in Bandung. These analyses were also combined with information from interviews. These analyses were focused on how informality is used and provides an added value in each stage of the place branding: development potentials and frame (branding identity), tools and strategies (brand positioning), and awareness and esteem (brand image). For ease of analysis, these topics were used as the selective codes in the coding process, so that the extracted information could be processed further. Accordingly, we displayed the data with matrices and checked the consistency between these multiple sources of data, so that the conclusion drawn from these analyses was valid.
Questioning informality in the branding of Suci creative kampong
Suci is located in the middle of Bandung city, to be precise in Muararajeun Lama neighbourhood unit (rukun warga/RW) 05. It has been well known for the long-established small and medium-sized enterprises specialising in screen printing, which have been in operation for years. Visiting Suci, we found that there are actually two screen printing areas, including ‘Sentra Sablon Suci’ (centre) and ‘Suci Screen Printing Kampong’ (see
Map of Suci kampong and Suci centre
The emergence of Suci centre which began in the early 1990s contributed to the Suci kampong potential development by leveraging the consumer market: the SMEs in Suci kampong sell the goods and those working from Suci centre act as the middlemen between the SMEs and consumers (see
The history of Suci kampong and Suci centre
Source: Authors’ analysis of interviews
According to our observation, Suci kampong looks like a typical urban kampong: a densely populated residential area in general. Houses are lined up on a small plot of land for each with small alleys for access, with home-production enterprises advertised on signage boards outside the premises. The proximity of the houses, and alleyway access, affects residents’ social interactions, promoting a sense of community and supporting collective socialising both inside the houses and along the alley.
A local SME screen-printing business owner, who has been in the screen-printing business for over 25 years, explained how Suci screen-printing kampong began growing in the 1980s. At the time, good quality T-shirts could only be found at shopping malls, such as Palaguna, Parahyangan and Dalem Kaum. He stated that Pak Siman, who was the pioneer of the screen-printing business located in Muararajeun, Suci area, developed this business when screen-printing was still rare and considered sophisticated. He empowered the youth at Muararajeun to work in the business and became the inspiration among the group. The screen-printing business grew well and was popular by 1993, specifically at RW 05 Muararajeun.
The local screen-printing owner continued to explain how the demands for screen-printing products mainly came from local government and schools in Bandung which did not require quality control schemes for the products. He further explained that in 1995 he successfully proposed his product to a famous clothing brand in Bandung. The success of entering into business with the clothing distribution company had upgraded the quality of Suci products because the distribution company imposed a quality control scheme. As a result, the products of Suci kampong became widely known and have reached both national and international markets, namely Medan, Padang, East Java, Kalimantan, Aceh, Papua, Palembang, South Kalimantan, Belitung, Batam, Makassar, Halmahera, and also Australia and Malaysia (Soedarsono, 2011). This growing reputation and demand has driven further innovation within the screed-printing industry, including the adoption of new technologies and modern equipment for small-scale production. In addition, the promotion strategy for these products has expanded to online marketing with social media and e-commerce to broaden the market for these goods.
A key aspect of the creative brand appeal is how local identity and distinctiveness is utilised within efforts to promote brand identity. According to interviews with local officials at ASME and ACT, these kampong potentials have been well understood as relating to the ability of traditional businesses in the kampong to grow and develop despite various limitations. These businesses have shown their ability to operate, yield innovation, and survive for decades under the informal situation, without significant support from the local government.
The entrepreneurship and screen-printing skills have grown and lasted, despite tight competition and scarcity. Space limitations have driven strategic utilisation of space: some plots of land are used for production, while others function both as a place for living and production. Meanwhile, screen-printing skills and knowledge continue to be passed-on across generations, capitalising upon local expertise and skills. For instance, the successor to Pak Siman has escalated the screen-printing business in Suci Kampong by supplying t-shirts for a famous clothing line in Bandung.
Both the local government and the dwellers view informality as a key potential for developing the brand identity of the kampong. In this context, informality drives and facilitates business innovation and self-reliance, enables the multiple utilisations of space as both home and business, and is recognised by local government as a selling point in the branding of the kampong and in promoting local economic development.
The idea of the creative economy and the creative city has influenced the development of Bandung city (see Fahmi et al., 2017). The economy of Bandung is significantly propped by the creative sector and others. The creative sector, in particular, contributes to 14.46 per cent of the gross regional product (GRP) in 2007 and is predicted to continue rising and become the driving force of the economy advancement of Bandung (RPJMD Kota Bandung 2014-2018, 220). The local government has responded to this development through a set of policies: 1) the construction of a creative centre; 2) the development of creative district; 3) appreciation and award for the creative sector; 4) support for the research and development of the unique local product; 5) the continuing campaign of Bandung creative city; 6) the enforcement of creative seminar and other events (RPJMD Kota Bandung 2014-2918, 220). The creative economic policy in Bandung has indeed become a context that underlies the choice of the brand identity for kampongs. With the emergence of creative activities in the city, the term creative kampong arose afterwards and became a new trend. For the local government, nurturing the growth of the creative economy which includes creative kampongs is important because it propels the addition of economic value which opens the opportunity to the vast array of community with limited access to capital and goods.
Among efforts to realise this objective, the local government has designated the ‘creative kampong programme’, which is under the responsibility of ACT. The Head of Tourism Division stated that according to RPJMD 2013-2018, each subdistrict (kecamatan) in Bandung should designate a creative kampong with a specific theme. Bandung itself has 30 sub-districts and thus, there should be 30 thematic kampongs identified in 2018. The theme ranged from art and culture, craft, culinary, and historical sites. By 2017, ACT had identified 25 thematic kampongs. The criterion of thematic kampong consists of the uniqueness and the competitive advantage which differ from one kampong to another in each district. In determining the kampong theme, a comprehensive approach is taken and involves various stakeholders. First, BAPPEDA (Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Daerah/Development Planning Agency for Bandung City) and BAPPELITBANG (Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan, Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah/Research and Development Planning Agency for Bandung City) conduct the study into kampong potentials. It is then completed by the field survey and discussion with local actors, community and experts to further understand the existing condition, gain aspiration from locals, and confirm the secondary data that has been studied before. The theme is then chosen based on the kampong potentials and aims to empower the locals, raise the welfare of the residents, and improve the physical condition of the kampong. In fact, kampong Suci is not selected in this creative kampong programme. Another kampong, kampong Batik, was chosen as a thematic creative kampong in the sub-district of Cibeunying Kaler where Suci is located. It is worth mentioning, however, that the selection of thematic kampongs had never gone beyond the labelling stage as there have not been follow-up programmes in the 25 selected kampongs.
Simultaneously, the local government has also focused on developing tourism. As stated in Mission 4 of the local mid-term development plan (RPJMD) 2014-2018, in building the robust, progressive and equitable economy, the local government aims to develop tourism so as to make Bandung a competitive tourism destination. In so doing, the local government adopts a so-called ‘creative tourism’ approach. The manifestation of this strategy is the procurement of creative events and the promotion of competitive tourism. Nevertheless, this document does not specify in which locations the creative tourism concept should be applied, and the strategy developed for creative tourism in Bandung is unclear and is focussed upon developing Bandung as a MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) city.
According to our analysis of policy documents and interviews, the designation of Suci kampong as a touristic kampong is not intentional. As RPJMD does not specify the locations of creative tourism programmes, allowing local government to pick the creative touristic locations (including kampongs) in a more spontaneous fashion. The selection of Suci as part of this programme can be associated with the visit of Mayor Ridwan Kamil to the kampong in which he was being told by the local screen-printing business actors about the obstacles for developing their business (Ramdhani, 2016). An interviewee from ACT confirmed that the idea of including Suci in the touristic kampong list was to make the kampong not only a place for home-industrial activities but also to facilitate visitors to see both the screen-printing production process and buy products directly from producers. According to ACT, tourism kampong is the further development of the creative kampong idea in which the kampong is not expected to contribute to the regional income. Rather, it aims to empower the locals, raise the welfare of the residents and improve the physical condition of the kampong.
In conclusion, the labelling of Suci as a ‘touristic screen-printing kampong’ is aligned with the local development agenda on tourism as well as the creative economy. However, it is clear that this designation was not preceded by a thorough analysis and plan. The informal nature of the economic activity in the kampong was not regarded as a problem by the local government. Rather, the creative as well as the touristic kampong programme tends to be an ‘affirmative action’ for the deprived community in the city.
Several interventions from the local government have sought to develop the Suci touristic screen-printing kampong, including by the Investment and Integrated Licensing Services Agency (IILSA), Agency for Culture and Tourism (ACT) and Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (ASME) (see
Development tools and strategies in Suci kampong
Source: Authors’ analysis of interviews
The assistance from IILSA was focused on formalising the business unit in the kampong through the GAMPIL application, which stands for Gadget Application Mobile for License, in 2016 (Setyanti, 2016). This project itself was aimed for the SMEs to have a legal status which facilitates them to have access to various resources, especially loans. GAMPIL itself means ‘easy’ in the Sundanese language which explains that this application made the SME permission easy. This application is designated for the residents who hold a Bandung ID card who run a small business. As the representative said:
The concern is in the legal aspect. The home industry will not go anywhere. I just wonder if a zone can be legalised to be able to enter the higher level of the market.
After the launch of GAMPIL in 2016, a local actor in Suci Kampong gathered the SMEs in Suci kampong to register their businesses and guide those who were not familiar with the mobile apps. However, this was immensely challenging as few SME actors understood the potential benefits and importance of GAMPIL for supporting kampong development and marketing.
Meanwhile, the assistance from ASME was focused on the development of entrepreneurship. The head of the SME division stated that the government covers such roles as nurturing and promoting the SMEs. The formation of the SME centre itself was not the implementation of the government programme, but rather it grew as an initiative from the community. According to the head of SME division, this kampong, as an SME agglomeration, provides an advantage to the government because it simplifies coordination with the SME actors. She said that the SME status, whether it is formal or informal, does not affect the opportunity of the SME to acquire assistance from the government.
When asked about the support to the Suci kampong, the interviewee from ASME mentioned that they assisted the screen-printing SME in Suci with t-shirt size standardisation training, while Telkom University provided training in online product promotion. She also mentioned that Suci kampong is promoted by ACT as a tourist gem: ‘ACT also have the program in promoting screen-printing kampong. The community in Suci themselves created the screen-printing kampong, then ASME and ACT help to promote them (to the public)’.
The interviewee from ACT echoed these views, identifying the various support and training provided to the screen-printing kampong. From these interviews we conclude that Suci kampong and Suci centre were understood as an integrated area with the same function - in other words, the two areas continue to be conflated in policy and practice. Reinforcing this sense, the interviewees even mentioned that Suci kampong has two titles and is supported by two different agencies: 1) as an SME centre which is under ASME; 2) as a tourism kampong which is under ACT. The different perception towards the screen-printing SME node in Suci creates the confusion in defining the boundaries between Suci centre and Suci kampong.
After the launching of Suci kampong as a tourism kampong, the follow-up project was to create the kampong branding, manifest through the construction of the Kampong Gate and name plate at Suci kampong (see ‘Development Components’ in
Contrary to the local government statement, the head of RW 05 in Suci kampong stated that there has been no support from the government to Suci kampong, either in nurturing the SME or improving the kampong. Supporting the statement from the head of RW, a local actor identified a total absence of follow-up support after the tourism kampong launch:
Now, where is the responsibility? I am becoming indolent. Why? Because there is no intervention at all afterwards. It was a mere kampong labelling. They are bureaucrats. If their region is flourishing, they are the ones who will be proud. They are the ones who will be in the highlight. So it is better to leave Suci Kampong in this condition. Why do we have to take pain?
Recognising the informal nature of the Suci kampong, the local government’s designation of Suci as one of creative kampongs in Bandung is ultimately focussed upon community empowerment. While the government acknowledges that the kampong businesses are able to survive, they do not have the technical competencies to develop the creative kampong branding. Thus, the brand positioning developed by government - of Suci as a thematic creative kampong - is extremely ambitious. Consequently, while the branding effort was intended to promote economic development and empowerment, the limited investment in supporting the development and brand messaging (other than promoting the kampong label, constructing a gate and installing a nameplate) means the brand identity has not been translated into practice and outcome.
Awareness and esteem
The development of awareness and esteem in place branding contains the process of creating the brand image in which the local government may choose the stressing point of the Suci kampong potential (see
Yes of course (there is a dialogue between the government and locals). The SME association in Suci has a lot of networks. This association makes the coordination easy and they have the intention to make the Suci Kampong into a creative kampong.
However, the local actor stated that the ‘touristic’ title given to Suci kampong was not compatible with the kampong’s existing condition. He took as an example that access to the kampong is merely a narrow alley about 5 m wide. It can only be accessed by motorcycle, bicycle and on foot. As such, tourists will face difficulties in entering the kampong or finding a place to park. Furthermore, there are no places for tourist to stay because the houses solely function as places of dwelling and production. According to a local actor, there should be a place for sightseeing and escort the tourists:
The ‘tourism kampong’ label was rather burdensome for us. In becoming a tourism kampong, it needs such massive improvement as the infrastructure, the showroom, marketing strategy, and others. But then, we do not have the money. The government has not given any follow up since yet.
ACT also confirmed that they have not given any specific support to Suci kampong yet: ‘There has been no specific support to develop Suci kampong yet. But we already noted the existence of the talents there’. Moreover, the government programme does not set Suci kampong as the prominent kampong (kampung unggulan) from Kecamatan Cibeunying Kaler District, rather it is the Cigadung Batik Kampong.
On the other hand, the label gave a hope for Suci kampong. The local actor said that it can be a chance to build workshops and showrooms at the kampong, a process which would both meet touristic demand while driving up the quality of Suci kampong products. To achieve such goals, strategic improvements in infrastructure and promotion are required - yet this is not forthcoming. Ultimately, this meant locals in Suci kampong viewed the tourism kampong title as being meaningless.
The branding process of Suci kampong
Source: Authors’ analysis of interviews
Moreover, in order to meet the branding purpose, coordination among governmental agencies is required. ASME mentioned that the support of public and social facilities is the responsibility of the Directorate General of Highways and Directorate General of Spatial Planning and Human Settlements, the SME coaching is in the scope of ASME, while the branding related to the arts and culture of the kampong is under the responsibility of ACT. Explaining the role of the government in general, the interviewee from ACT mentioned that they act as the motivator, regulator and the facilitator. The support from the government is viewed as a stimulant, not a continual conferment, and direct financial aid is not part of government support. As a result, the labelling of Suci as a creative kampong has not raised awareness with wider audiences about the brand image of a creative and tourism kampong which has a strength from its informal nature.
This paper has presented how informality provides an added value to city branding, particularly in Suci area, Bandung, which has been relabelled a ‘creative tourism kampong’ as inspired by the idea of the creative economy. We examined this in each stage of the branding processes: brand identity (the creative distinctive appeal), brand positioning and brand image (awareness and esteem) (Kavaratzis, 2004; Middleton, 2011).
Our findings show that the local government of Bandung has made use of informality in Suci kampong for constructing a brand identity. The emerging discourse on the creative economy indeed provides ideas in proposing and positioning the brand. At this stage, informality is not seen as a problem, but rather as the potential to empower the deprived citizens to be involved in the local development agenda in nurturing the creative economy and tourism (see also Hernandez and Lopez, 2011). Although the city administrators had performed a strategic examination through the kampong potential, they failed to transform this potential into specific skills, resources, competences and capabilities (see Dinnie, 2011). There are several factors that explain this. First, the selection of Suci in the kampong branding programme was not based on a thorough visioning procedure: it is not explicitly designated in local development plans and policies, but rather it is aligned with the general kampong branding programme which has aimed to empower, or to be precise, to acknowledge the existence of kampong residents in the city. Second, the informal nature of the enterprises to a certain degree became a challenge for the local government in developing these strategies. The idea of the creative economy emphasises innovation and value creation (e.g. Pratt 2008; 2011), while those local enterprises might not have sufficient capacity to do so. There were no programmes from the local government designated to build and enhance the capacity of the local enterprises in Suci kampong. Third, the local government focus on symbolic, physical interventions (e.g. nameplate in the kampong gate), while it tends to neglect other strategies for the primary communication of the brand identity, for instance developing supporting organisational structure and changing behaviour and vision of the local stakeholders, including the community. In other words, there is a lack of communication and limited involvement of the community in creating the brand as well as building awareness about it. At the end of the day, the development strategies could not help develop awareness and esteem about the brand image and have not significantly reshaped the development in the kampong. The outcome of the branding strategy cannot clearly be identified beyond the labelling of the name.
This study has drawn an important conclusion regarding the conceptual relationship between informality and place branding. The concept of place branding indeed offers generic prescriptions for imagining urban development in the global South. However, in many cases and as shown by our case study, the brand image that is perceived by the public often does not align with the brand identity that is sought to be built (see Lui, 2008). This is usually caused by ill-defined brand positioning as well as unclear development strategies and programmes, which should have translated the brand identity into the efforts in developing awareness and esteem about the brand image (see Houghton and Stevens, 2011). This study affirms that informality can indeed provide value in place branding (see Hernandez and Lopez, 2011), but we contend that this is limited for developing the brand identity. In further stages of branding strategies, it is rather difficult to utilise and translate the value of informality into development actions and outcomes, as in many aspects those actions require ‘formal status’. The development actions and initiatives often are trapped in the paradox of stimulating formalisation of the informal firms and supporting the uniqueness of the informal society as they would be. This resonates with Roy’s (2005) argument that formalisation is not enough in this monopoly system of the economy and that hence, policymakers need to address the right to participate in the market by directly addressing inequality. The informal actors (or firms) face myriad problems for sustaining their business, such as unskilled labour and technology development. As such, we suggest that when informality is used in place branding, the fully top-down approach would tend to fail. A stronger role and participation of the local community should be stimulated, so that they can formulate and implement development strategies with the assistance and support from the local government (see Houghton and Stevens, 2011).
These points suggest future research agenda as well as some policy implications. Whilst this paper has focused on place branding in examining the relationship between informality and the creative economy, further studies can be conducted to elaborate how urban development in general as well as creative industries’ strategies in particular have considered the existence and potential role of the informal economic activities in urban kampongs. In terms of policy, the city administrators need to be creative in the distinctive appeal process, in that informality is not only used in developing the brand identity, but also it has to be aligned with development strategies, especially by involving the community and improving their capability in developing creativity and innovation strategies for building the brand image, as well as aspects that would help them sustain socioeconomic development in urban areas.