Importance of urban branding


By Dr. Solmaz Rezaei
Head of research and consulting department


The word brand has a Norwegian origin and means burning and heating which found its way to the English dictionary by Vikings and is now being widely used. Gardner and Levy, 1955, have made a precise definition of this concept: “Brand is a complex concept that embraces a wide range of ideas and features. Brand not only uses its own vocabulary and its lexical meaning, but also more importantly using any factor that has been mixed with it over time and is well known in the community as an identity that speaks to the customer”. The importance of this concept is evident in the world today which is a world of competition. Competition among humans, cultures, technologies, industries and cities. Cities and urban areas are in a tough competition with other places in various fields of investment and capitalism, tourism, shopping malls, political, social and artistic events, and globalization has aggravated this. So that competition is no longer between neighboring cities, but in a network of global cities that may be geographically far apart. In order to enter the competition field between cities, it was necessary for each city to create an identity and, ultimately, a reputation. The city’s unique reputation for its unique capabilities, features and abilities.
Urban brand is a widespread collection of audience perceptions of urban spaces, citizens, and many social, political, economic, and cultural characteristics of urban life, and urban branding is a way to increase the attractiveness of the city and the central point of city cognition. This is how urban branding as a new knowledge comes from various sciences such as marketing science, economics, tourism, public policy, and so on. Today, in a new worldview, cities have emerged as dynamic brands that can, while maintaining a close relationship with the central government, increase their global credibility and improve their international status compared to other cities in the world. Such a competition could secure the citizens’ maximum benefits and strengthen their urban identity.
In this regard, Simon Anholt introduced a concept called “City Brands Index” (GMI) for the first time in 2005, to measure and rank the leading cities in the world, through which 50 top cities from 25 countries were specified in this field. He examined various dimensions of urban brand in six areas: presence (city’s international status and familiarity with people), location (physical aspects of a city), capacity (economic and educational sectors), pulse (urban lifestyle, city excitement level), people (hospitality and security issues), prerequisites (living expenses and residence costs). The GMI index is currently being reviewed and published annually.
The realization of urban branding involves the steps that each requires its custodians. Measures such as: Developing a perceptual map of the audience from the city, identifying the strengths and objectives for transition to a new point in the perceptual map, creating a slogan appropriate to the goals of branding to accommodate the minds of the audience, create a symbol or brand element for quick recall of audience associations to short-term memory, producing consistent content suitable for consolidating the brand’s position, recognizing the city and identifying the physical, historical, cultural, and climatic capabilities, highlighting existing capacities, and many other factors that require serious attention to this category.
As the implementation and maintenance of an organization brand is the responsibility of all the people of that organization, also in the successful urbanization of cities, this is not the sole requirement of a particular group or collection. The groups involved in this field can be divided into three sections: citizens, urban managers and thinkers in the field of branding. On the other hand, in the process of establishing the urban brand strategy, there is a fundamental need for groups such as the council for economic development, business leaders, city leaders and executives, popular representatives, tourism managers, local universities, cultural and heritage organizations, local media, commissions related to events and exhibitions … Of course, ordinary citizens also play a very important role in promoting urban brand goals, so that the activities and programs of all these groups will be achieved by co-operating and providing the necessary training to them.