Paris has been named Europe's top city brand,while...



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Paris, London and Barcelona
are Europe’s top city brands

Research by Saffron Consultants

28 August 2008: In a unique study, which ranks Europe’s largest cities based on a comparison of their assets and attractions against the strength of their brands, Paris emerges as Europe’s number one city brand, followed by London, Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam. The research also reveals that the French capital is the most asset-rich city in Europe, ahead of, again, London and followed by Munich, Barcelona and Amsterdam. Bradford, UK, is the lowest-ranked city in both categories.

Brand strength
Top and bottom 10
Asset strength
Top and bottom 10
1 Paris, France 1 Paris, France
2 London, UK 2 London, UK
3 Barcelona, Spain 3 Munich, Germany
3 Berlin, Germany 3 Barcelona, Spain
3 Amsterdam, Neth. 5 Amsterdam, Neth.
6 Munich, Germany 6 Rome, Italy
7 Stockholm, Sweden 7 Vienna, Austria
8 Prague, Czech Republic 7 Milan, Italy
9 Rome, Italy 9 Madrid, Spain
10 Athens, Greece 10 Athens, Greece
62 Wroclaw, Poland 61 Poznan, Poland
64 Leeds, UK 64 Belgrade, Serbia
65 Sofia, Bulgaria 64 Leeds, UK
66 Sheffield, UK 66 Birmingham, UK
66 Poznan, Poland 66 Liverpool, UK
66 Lodz, Poland 68 Duisburg,Germany
69 Vilnius, Lithuania 69 Newcastle, UK
70 Duisburg, Germany 70 Gdansk, Poland
70 Chisinau, Moldova 70 Chisinau Moldova
72 Bradford, UK 72 Bradford, UK
Results for all cities

The study, entitled ‘The City Brand Barometer’ and created by London-based Saffron Consultants, ranks 72 of Europe’s largest cities based on a comparison of their assets and attractions against the strength of their brands. To support the analysis, Saffron commissioned a YouGov poll of 2,000 consumers to find out what people most want from a city.

Unsurprisingly, Paris and London emerged as the cities with the best assets and the strongest brands to match. Among old Europe’s other capitals, Berlin is the striking example of a city with a brand that is significantly stronger than its assets. On the other hand, Rome is more blessed with what people want than the German capital but it is not as effective at communicating this – hence its brand is considerably weaker than Berlin’s. Vienna, Austria, was the only city deemed to get precisely the reputation its assets deserve – its brand was judged to be fully consistent with what the city has to offer.

However, the Barometer also reveals a clutch of undervalued cities, which could provide pointers to Europe’s future ‘city gems’, provided they learn how to promote themselves. Bulgaria’s Sofia has many of the assets tourists want from a city but doesn’t have the reputation to match. To a lesser extent, the same applies to other EU accession cities, such as Poland’s Krakow and Wroclaw and Lithuania’s Vilnius – Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2009. These cities are hidden gems and greater devotion to flaunting their wares can help them onto Europe’s top table.

Saffron’s research suggests a handful of old Europe cities, including Antwerp and Lisbon are in a similar position, punching well below their weight. They have many of the qualities people want in a city but are losing out by failing to promote themselves.

Conversely, Scottish capital Glasgow, Irish capital Dublin and English city Liverpool emerge as some of the cities whose brands punch above the weight their attributes deserve. The study finds that other cities, like Bradford, England, which have neither good assets nor strong brands, risk obscurity if they do not act to improve their brand, which requires both material improvement of assets and better promotion.

The study also underlines the contrasting fortunes of Barcelona and Naples – two potentially comparable cities in terms of regional significance, yet the Catalan capital has trounced its Italian rival in projecting a distinctive idea of what it stands for and who it’s appealing to. The southern Italian city is rich in good climate, history, culture and gastronomy but it has devoted little time to creating a reputation among Europe’s cities. Naples’ well-documented refuse crisis makes the need for deliberate action to improve its image even more acute. It has the necessary attractions to help shift perceptions in its favour.

The report concludes that a city wanting to improve its standing in the world should work on a set of ten things, which Saffron has identified as the factors which determine a city’s brand. These include factors such as a distinctive sense of place, ambition/policy vision and business climate and civic pride.

Jeremy Hildreth, Saffron’s head of place branding, told City Mayors that the main purpose of the study was to identify the ‘undervalued stocks’ amongst European cities. “Interestingly, although we have a tendency to think of a city’s star as permanently fixed, in reality the fortunes of places rise and fall over time. Our perceptions shift, too, but they are imperfectly correlated with reality. We continue to think well of a place even if it no longer deserves it. It seems we’ll forgive a place anything provided it’s sexy and going there gives us something to talk about when we get home. A city’s brand is an overall image and set of associations that resides in people’s heads and branding means the deliberate actions taken to alter or improve an image. It entails a place gathering its leaders together and deciding what assets it has to work with and what weaknesses it needs to correct,” Hildreth explained.

Results for all 72 cities researched by Saffron Consultants
Cities
Asset
score
Asset
rank
Brand
strength
Brand
rank
Utilisation
score
Utilisation
rank
Average 59
Average 60
Average 91
Amsterdam, Neth.
83
5
96
3
115%
3
Antwerp, Belgium
72
11
47
39
65%
61
Athens, Greece
73
10
80
10
110%
8
Barcelona, Spain
86
3
96
3
112%
4
Belfast, UK
50
57
50
32
101%
14
Belgrade, Serbia
47
64
38
55
80%
41
Berlin, Germany
70
16
96
3
137%
1
Birmingham, UK
46
66
44
42
96%
21
Bradford, UK
29
72
22
72
76%
45
Bratislava, Slovakia
53
54
36
58
68%
54
Bremen, Germany
65
28
39
54
60%
64
Bristol, UK
51
56
45
40
89%
31
Bucharest, Romania
61
36
44
42
73%
47
Budapest, Hungary
59
42
55
25
93%
24
Cardiff, UK
58
43
40
53
70%
51
Chisinau, Moldova
39
70
27
70
70%
51
Cologne, Germany
61
36
51
29
83%
38
Copenhagen, Denmark
66
26
65
17
99%
18
Dortmund, Germany
48
61
34
61
71%
48
Dresden, Germany
66
26
51
29
77%
44
Dublin, Ireland
69
18
74
14
107%
10
Duisburg, Germany
44
68
27
70
62%
63
Düsseldorf, Germany
61
36
41
51
68%
54
Edinburgh, UK
67
22
70
15
104%
11
Essen, Germany
57
45
51
29
89%
31
Frankfurt, Germany
72
11
67
16
93%
24
Gdansk, Poland
39
70
35
59
89%
31
Genoa, Italy
63
32
42
50
67%
56
Glasgow, UK
56
47
56
23
101%
14
Gothenburg, Sweden
54
50
35
59
64%
62
Hamburg, Germany
68
20
65
17
96%
21
Hannover, Germany
67
22
45
40
67%
56
Helsinki, Finland
58
43
54
26
93%
24
Kraków, Poland
63
32
44
42
70%
51
Leeds, UK
47
64
31
64
66%
58
Leipzig, Germany
60
40
43
46
71%
48
Lisbon, Portugal
70
16
59
21
85%
36
Liverpool, UK
46
66
53
28
115%
3
Lodz, Poland
48
61
29
66
60%
64
London, UK
88
2
97
2
110%
8
Madrid, Spain
75
9
77
11
104%
11
Málaga, Spain
60
40
54
26
91%
28
Manchester, UK
56
49
50
32
89%
31
Marseille, France
56
47
44
42
79%
42
Milan, Italy
77
7
75
13
97%
20
Munich, Germany
86
3
87
6
101%
14
Naples, Italy
69
18
56
23
82%
40
Newcastle, UK
43
69
43
46
99%
18
Nuremberg, Germany
64
30
38
55
58%
69
Oslo, Norway
71
15
60
20
85%
36
Palermo, Italy
68
20
49
35
71%
48
Paris, France
89
1
99
1
111%
7
Poznan, Poland
48
61
29
66
60%
64
Prague,Czech Republic
72
11
83
8
115%
3
Riga, Latvia
57
45
37
57
66%
58
Rome, Italy
79
6
81
9
102%
13
Rotterdam, Neth.
52
55
43
46
83%
38
Sarajevo, Bosnia
49
59
43
46
86%
35
Seville, Spain
65
28
48
37
75%
46
Sheffield, UK
49
59
29
66
60%
64
Sofia, Bulgaria
67
22
30
65
45%
72
Stockholm, Sweden
72
11
85
7
118%
2
Stuttgart, Germany
67
22
64
19
96%
21
Thessaloniki, Greece
62
35
41
51
66%
58
Turin, Italy
64
30
50
32
78%
43
Valencia, Spain
63
32
58
22
91%
28
Vienna, Austria
77
7
77
11
100%
17
Vilnius, Lithuania
54
50
28
69
52%
71
Warsaw, Poland
52
55
48
37
93%
24
Wroclaw, Poland
61
36
33
62
53%
70
Zagreb, Croatia
54
50
33
62
60%
64
Zaragoza, Spain
54
50
49
35
91%
28





Bradford came bottom in a list of 72 cities


Research methodology
The Saffron European City Brand Barometer
The Barometer measures the strength of cities’ brands and assesses how well cities use branding to exploit their assets. Saffron analysed European cities with populations of 450,000 or more, plus Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Newcastle (important UK cities with populations less than that). Altogether there are 72 cities. The analysis is based on two components: City Asset Strength and City Brand Strength. All cities were scored out of 100 and ranked according to both these two factors.

City Asset Strength
To measure how strong a city’s brand could be, Saffron found what the most desirable attributes in a city were and then analysed how each city measured up against these attributes. To determine what people want most in a place, Saffron commissioned a YouGov poll of 2,000 people in the UK.  Respondents were asked two questions with a series of multiple choice answers. The most desirable attributes, in order of weighted importance, were:
Cultural: Sightseeing and historical attractions; Cuisine and restaurants; Good shopping
Amenity: Particularly low cost; Good weather; Ease of getting around on foot or by public transport

City Brand Strength
How strong is a city’s brand right now? Saffron’s experts chose four factors, equally weighted, to measure a city’s Brand Strength: Pictorially recognized (meaning, could many people recognize the city from a postcard without having to read the description on the back); Quantity/strength of positive/attractive qualities (meaning, what prompted and unprompted associations do people have of the city); Conversational value (meaning, how interesting would it be at a cocktail party to say, “Hey, I just got back from city xxx; Media recognition, which we determined statistically by counting media references to the city over a set time period

Brand Utilisation
A third score and rank was given for each city. Brand Utilisation reveals quantitatively how well the cities are living up to their brand potential (by calculating Brand Strength as a percentage of Asset Strength for each city).

About Saffron
Saffron is a global brand consultancy chaired by Wally Olins. Saffron has advised the Portugese Tourist Board, Northern Ireland, the government of Poland and Visit London. Saffron operates from four locations – London, Madrid, New York and Mumbai.