World cities are nowadays in competition with each other to get the attention of investors, visitors, skilful workers and events. City branding is a strategic way for local governments to win this competition and to attain economic, political and socio-cultural objectives.
By developing its brands, cities can indeed grow financially and culturally and they can also acquire more popularity among people.
In 2002, Simon Anholt, who is best known for his work on the public image and the reputation of countries, cities and regions, has conceived the term “Place Branding”. According to Anholt, ”Place Branding” is made up of six elements: tourism, exported brands, politics, business and investments, culture and people. Though tourism obviously still plays the most important role, business and social aspects are fundamental for the cities’ development and public image too.
City branding is not only applied to the world’s biggest cities such as Paris, London, New York or Madrid, it is also used for many small cities in developing countries.
Cities can brand themselves as ‘eco-cities’, ‘tech cities’ or ‘garden cities’, depending on their aims. Here are some of the most interesting examples of city branding.
The Logo of the City of Sao Paulo symbolizes the party atmosphere perfectly; this vibrant symbol can be seen as representative of the diversity and variety of cultures in and around the city.
“Brand Hong Kong” was launched in 2001 as a government program designed to promote Hong Kong as “Asia’s World City“. The original image design incorporated the Chinese characters for Hong Kong ‘香港’ as well as the city’s initial ‘HK’.
In 2010, following a Government review, the dragon logo was updated, making the dragon’s head smaller and incorporating three streaks of ribbons behind the dragon’s head, symbolizing the diversity and flexibility of Hong Kong.
Focusing on the multilingual aspects of the City of Prague/Praha/Praga/Prag logo design, this simple visual element offers great potential within an adaptable identity system. The logo breaks the name into a consistent prefix and a changing suffix, and the color reflects the reds and yellows of the city’s flag.
The Melbourne logo symbolizes a dynamic and progressive city thinking forwardly.
Rebranded in 2013, the City of Stockholm introduced a revised identity with a custom-made typeface of St. Erik – the patron of Stockholm. The brand as a whole is incredibly refreshing in its contemporary design, and the portrait logo works so well in the range of colors within the vibrant palette.