New York City has been named the city with the strongest business brand according to new research conducted by experts in place branding, Saffron Brand Consultants. The City Business Brand Barometer measures which global cities have the strongest brands to attract businesses and investors. It also explores what creates a strong business brand for a city.
Despite the turbulent backdrop of Brexit, London achieves 2nd place. The capital remains a leader in innovation and sustainability, with strong assets and ‘buzz’.
Saffron selected 75 of the most economically relevant global cities. To define the strength of their ‘business brand’ they assessed their ‘assets’ for example, infrastructure, safety and economic prosperity – and their ‘buzz’, or the perception of each city.
The overall aim of the barometer ranking is to help both public and private sector bodies understand that they can positively contribute to a cities’ reputation within the business community, and – if needs be – improve their brand.
Unsurprisingly, five US cities made the top 10 but interesting developments since the 2015 rankings show that Madrid supersedes Barcelona for the first time. Steps by local government in the Spanish capital that have improved quality of life, coupled with instability in Cataluña, have all played a part in the climb.
The City Business Brand Barometer was first released in 2015, crowning New York as the strongest brand. The team revisited the tool this year, to take into account the changes in business conditions, how geopolitical sands have shifted and the subsequent implications for cities worldwide. New data sources and tools have become available in the past five years that help give a fuller picture of the strength of cities’ business brands and the methodology has been updated to reflect them.
The Top 10:
These are the cities with the strongest business brands globally.
- New York
- Hong Kong
- Los Angeles
- Washington DC
The cities ranked 11-20 are those with great business brands tipped to challenge the Top 10 in the near future. They tend to have smaller GDP per Capita but typically enjoy higher quality of life and roughly the same ease of doing business as those amongst the Top 10. They are serious competition to the large and established cities of the world with many businesses enjoying better value than the larger competitors. The Challengers also feature more cities such as San Francisco and Berlin that have specialised in Startup/ IT and the creative industries.
- San Francisco
Saffron’s consultants identified The Underperformers as cities that are struggling to realise their potential. They are in the Top 20 for assets but may need to improve their credibility as places to do business and build positive perceptions connected with their assets. They risk being overtaken by other emerging cities. 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 established business offer:
The Ones to Watch:
These are cities anticipated to make upward moves in the near future, scoring in the Top 10 for ‘buzz’ but not for overall rankings, indicating that their assets are not yet as strong as they should be. With the right investment into improving their asset strength these cities could become leading business brands in the future:
- Abu Dhabi
City Case Studies
Saffron’s consultants felt that these cities stood out as interesting cases to examine more closely. Some of them have benefitted from definitive action taken by their governments to attract business. And some of these cities are brimming with untapped potential. Saffron consultants have shone a light on the factors that have affected their business brand, and consider the challenges and opportunities they face.
Read the case studies in full here
- Abu Dhabi
- Washington DC
Ben Knapp, leader of Place brand practice at Saffron Consultants said, “A strong brand must be authentic to a city, relevant to the audience it is trying to attract, whilst differentiating the place on the global stage. In the case of a city’s business brand, the audience are businesses, investors and workers, and the assets considered range from corporate tax law to quality of life and connectivity.
“Since 2014, a lot has changed with shrinking trade barriers, economic reforms and digitisation, meaning 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.