Which global cities have built the best brand for business?

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A place branding guide for the worlds greatest business cities.

Brand agency Saffron have just released their City Brand Barometer for 2019 which explores which cities around the world have built the strongest brands to attract businesses and investors. The report gives an insight into which cities are doing a great job of building their place brand for commerce and which need to pick-up their game.

As Saffron explain; “Cities compete to attract commerce on a global stage. A combination of shrinking trade barriers, economic reforms and digitalisation means more and more businesses are borderless in 2019. In order to compete effectively, cities must now build, manage and measure their brand in the same way that commercial companies would when seeking investment or talent.

Whilst developing place brands for cities and countries all over the world, we have seen first-hand the value that a strong brand can have when attracting business.

We created the Saffron City Brand Barometer to be a tool that could usefully assess what creates a strong business brand for a city. This ranking aims to highlight the importance for cities to foster a great reputation as a place to do business.”

The Top 10

These cities scored the highest in our final ranking. These are the cities with the strongest business brands, earning the best score overall when both their assets and buzz were taken into account.

What might be regarded as ‘the usual suspects’ find themselves at the top of our ranking. Strong asset scores thanks to high ratings on GDP per Capita PPP, ease of doing business and, to some extent, quality of life are the table stakes among these top scoring cities. Building on high asset scores is the equally important work of establishing a positive perception amongst business audiences worldwide – which all of these cities enjoy.

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The Challengers

The top 11-20 of our final ranking. These are the cities with great business brands that look set to challenge the Top 10 in the near future.

The Challengers tend to be smaller by GDP per Capita PPP but typically enjoy higher quality of life and roughly the same ease of doing business as those amongst the Top 10. They are therefore serious competition to the large and established cities of the world with many businesses decided that these Challengers represent better value than their larger competitors. The Challengers also feature more cities such as San Francisco and Berlin that have specialised on Startup/IT and Creative Industries, respectively.

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The Underperformers

These are cities that are not realising their potential. These underperformers are in the Top 20 for assets, but have an average or low perception score. This has resulted in a lower ranking than their assets might suggest they deserve.

These are cities that may need to improve their credibility as places to do business and build positive perceptions connected with their assets. Investigating why perceptions are not in line with their offering could certainly pay high dividends. Cities such as Zurich and Dublin already enjoy strong brands in the spheres of financial services and IT but must do more in order to build a more widely established business brand.

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Ones to Watch

These cities are the ones we believe will be making upwards moves in our ranking in the near future. They scored in the Top 10 for buzz but did not make it into the Top 10 of the overall ranking, indicating that their assets are not yet as strong as they need to be. With the right investment into improving their asset strength, these cities could become leading business brands in the future.

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You can check more detail of the City Brand barometer including mothodology used by Saffron and some more detailed case studies here…

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