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Singapore-Hong Kong lead the way among APac's city brands.
Thursday, 13th September 2012
Source : PublicAffairsAsia and Ogilvy Public Relations
Singapore and Hong Kong reign as the top two city brands in Asia Pacific, according to new findings published in 'Location Branding 2012'.

Chinese cities are included among the report’s top ten cities with Shanghai ranking sixth and Beijing in tenth place.

Steve Dahllof, CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations, Asia Pacific, said, “We can see from the analysis that the strongest city brands in Asia Pacific – Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney – are the cities whose reputations are comparatively long-standing. With 11 of the 16 rated cities receiving a very good rating from less than a third of respondents, many cities across the region still have their work cut out for them when it comes to defining their brand image. On a continent as diversified as Asia, it’s imperative for these emerging countries and cities to deploy sophisticated location branding strategies that take full advantage of all the campaign tools at their disposal.”

The study aims to look at two areas that are particularly competitive for Asian cities: investment and tourism. It establishes a clear hierarchy of brand attributes that countries, cities and regions should focus on to attract foreign direct investment and tourism.

The most critical are the business operating environment and political stability, while availability of a range of cultural activities including food, the arts and heritage are the most important factors for building an attractive tourism brand.

Executive Director and Publishing Editor of PublicAffairsAsia, Craig Hoy, said, “The central finding of this research is that location branding is both complex and challenging. The data reveals that cities, regions and countries across the region need to do more to develop their brand reputation as a clear majority see branding as very important to the economic development of cities and countries in Asia Pacific.”

Notably, the report finds that:

  • An overwhelming majority of respondents (88 per cent) believe that more needs to be done to develop the brand reputation of cities and countries in the Asia Pacific region.
  • Location branding is significantly harder than branding a product, according to 77 per cent of respondents, with 52 per cent saying it is much harder.
  • The business operating environment (73 per cent), political stability (72 per cent) and the built environment (63 per cent) are the top three priorities for campaigns to attract business investment.
  • The top priority to brand locations for tourism is promoting a place’s cultural offering, including food, the arts, heritage and leisure opportunities (61 per cent). Secondary priorities involve the natural environment (47 per cent), hotel leisure facilities (50 per cent) and transport (44 per cent).
  • Word of mouth is seen as the most essential channel for brand positioning(59 per cent), followed by public relations (51 per cent), social media (40 per cent) and advertising (30 per cent).
  • Well-established regional markets round out the Top Four of the strongest Asia Pacific city brands – with Sydney (#3) and Tokyo (#4).
  • Some cities still have a way to go to establish their reputation – Mumbai(#13), Delhi (#14), Jakarta (#15) and Manila (#16) round out the bottom of the city rankings
Implications for Location Branding Campaigns
  • A strong brand can usefully offer a form of insurance to locations if and when they are beset by natural disaster and other crises. When there is more depth to a particular location’s brand, it can help shield against crises.
  • There is a clear hierarchy of needs when it comes to the attributes required for successfully developing a brand for business vs. tourism. Both build on basic fundamentals that are necessary minimum standards for a location to meet before an investor or traveler would consider selecting that location. (Please refer to the Appendix).
  • Branding campaigns must take a portfolio approach when it comes to media channels. The best campaigns adopt a multi-channel approach to develop a strong brand and to insert themselves into word of mouth discussions, which is the highest rated brand positioning channel.
  • The strongest location brands have strength and depth in particular areas but do not try and compete across the board. Locations must consider the competitive environment, define the qualities that differentiate them, and develop those assets.
  • Coherent and consistent messaging does not mean that one size fits all. Different brand campaigns require differentiated strategies.
The study was conducted as the Asia Pacific region approaches a major tipping point: nearly half of the world’s urban population now lives in the region and a majority of the world’s megacities are predicted to emerge in Asia over the next decade. The rapid shift toward urbanization makes location branding an important determinant of these cities’ future success.

The report is based on a survey analysis of 300 Asia Pacific communications experts, drawn from a range of communications disciplines including corporate communications; corporate, public and government affairs; marketing and public relations. There is more than 3,000 years of collective professional experience across the survey’s respondents, with well over half of them in senior management positions.
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