Do Nation or City Brand rankings offer any real value?

Florian Kaefer who owns the excellent Place Brand Observer Blog drew my attention to a cracking Blog post written by Eduardo Oliviera on the Place Brands Blog.

In his post, Eduardo writes extensively on the number of country and city brand indexes and barometers as well as newspaper ‘best place to be’ and ‘best place to swim’ tables and their rankings and notes that they all use different methodologies and algorithms. Unsurprisingly the rankings differ from one to another and he wonders whether their rankings offer any real benefit.

He says, “The practice of place branding continues this ‘ranking fetish’. People seem to set great stock in rankings or lists such as ‘best of’ or ‘top 10′. But in reality these rankings don’t have as much power as people think. They simply divert focus, resources and effort from what is truly important in place branding.”

He goes on to say, “In the same line of reasoning investors are influenced in their decisions both by very material, quantitative issues (in particular costs and labour force) but also by the reputation of places.”

About the only part of his post that I disagree with is that last comment because as long as the place doesn’t have a seriously bad reputation – and even then there are investors willing to invest – if it offers specific value to an investor that investor will invest.

I’m preparred to get off the fence and say these rankings are meaningless. They have zero impact on a nation or city brand. You cannot create place brand reputation but you can influence it. It grows organically thanks to multiple components that can be influenced and often steered by the very people and other stakeholders invested in the place brand.

Ultimately it has to offer economic, experiential and emotional value to the relevant stakeholder, both internal or external and if it does it can overcome serious setbacks. Which is why countries like America can invade Iraq and upset the Muslim world and still be the number one destination for overseas education for students from Islamic countries.

It has brand credit that has built up over time and it will take a lot to erode that credit. But that credit is intangible and doesn’t need to be measured. What city and nation brands have to focus on is delivering that economic, experiential and emotional value, based on the individuals requirements for that value and they will build a brand that will be the best place to invest, eat in, sleep in, skateboard in and so on.

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2 thoughts on “Do Nation or City Brand rankings offer any real value?

  1. Thanks for the kind words about the Place Brand Observer, Marcus. Looking forward to read more from you about place branding. Perhaps you’d like to share some of your place branding experience on the http://placebrandobserver.com blog? The way Malaysian airlines influence the country’s national brand would certainly be an interesting case study to feature. Just let me know :)

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