City Identity, Reputation & Visibility

A strong global identity is an essential asset for a city. It is almost impossible for a city to succeed without one. But getting there requires great skill and a willingness to work hard at it consistently.

A powerful and attractive identity helps cities to build a sense of belonging and common purpose among its population, and to establish confidence and trust among others who make choices about it.. It motivates citizens and stakeholders to work together. Identity is a means identity to harness DNA and become more distinctive and differentiated. It provides a city with the ‘benefit of the doubt.’

Over the last 10 years we have worked very closely on brand and identity development of cities such as Brisbane, Oslo and Aarhus, and are currently very active supporting the process of identity-building in Atlanta, Barcelona, Columbus, Louisville, Philadelphia, Sydney and other cities and regions.

How we help cities and regions to build their Identity

  • We provide outside-in analysis to measure perception and reputation of cities, including tools that monitor perception in different markets and geographies, in order to identify points of strength and differentiation.
  • We help cities to develop the communication strategies that can grow their visibility, providing guidance on how to develop and sustain stakeholder alliances through several cycles of initiative.
  • We help leaders to learn and apply the tools that can help them distil their unique DNA and shift from short-term branding exercises towards a balanced identity and compelling narrative.
Read article in Wall Street Journal where Chairman Greg Clark explains the logic of city brands
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We Analyse and Monitor Cities' Global Perception and Reputation

We help cities to track their recent perception and longer-term reputation in external markets, drawing on:

  • 100+ Global Perception Benchmarks
  • 10 years of Media analysis in 50+ countries and 10+ languages
  • Sentiment analysis of cities on leading digital platforms (Google, Twitter, Reddit, Tripadvisor)
  • Reviews and surveys of the most influential platforms for businesses, investors, meetings economy and the visitor economy.

We Connect Cities to the right Case Studies and Leaders

We explain the tools and processes that have helped different types of cities to:

  • Attract and leverage larger opportunities than marketing, sales, or advertising can target.
  • Correct distortions and poor perceptions.
  • Get other people to tell your story.
  • Build the experience around the identity.
  • Shift from a narrowly based or simplistic brand towards a balanced position in multiple segments.
  • Create a continuous narrative of past, present and future.

We provide these insights through customised case studies, webinars with experienced identity programme leaders, and practical workshops and consultation.

Read our interview with UCL STEaPP on the DNA of Global Cities

We Inform and Guide Locally-Led Identity Strategies

We draw on our experience working with local leadership teams in more than 100 cities to help our clients:

  1. distil their city's unique DNA and story
  2. identify and persuade the stakeholder alliance
  3. build a unified narrative matrix
  4. identify the potential catalysts
Read La Vanguardia article describing our input to new Barcelona brand (Spanish)

5 practical ways we equip the teams we work with

  1. A review report of what a city’s current identity is using background analysis
  2. A brand narrative or evidence base report to support city promotion
  3. Keynote presentation and/or workshop to add momentum and build stakeholder alliances for a Global Identity-building process
  4. Guidance on development of an Identity strategy for a city, region, or metro area, through interviews, consultation and case studies.
  5. Remote support, webinars and advice over an extended period to inform and guide locally led strategy
Read about our work with Brookings supporting four American metros to develop their global identity

Examples of our work

Examples of cities we have worked with include Atlanta, Barcelona, London, Oslo, Philadelphia, San Diego, Sydney, and Vienna.

Read examples of our work for Oslo, Sydney and Louisville.

Our small expert team undertakes City Identity analysis and produces reports to spec with fast turnaround times. We typically have a lead-in time of 2-3 months for analytical reports. Our participation in workshops, summits and presentations is subject to availability, and usually requires 3-6 months notice.