The City Brandscaping Model

The City Brandscaping Model

Multidimensional city mapping tool

Just translating the city’s determinant characteristics into a slogan will not be enough. Be Berlin, Totally London, I Amsterdam, Only Lyon, Strasbourg l’Europtimist, Your Singapore… These marks of ownership, taken separately, are not relevant to brand a city. It would be naïve to believe that adding any slogan, symbol, and logo to your city will guarantee an increase of visitors, reputation or revenues. Neither will it allow you to stand out among your global competitors. Even when other essential perceptual traits of a city (such as history, quality, lifestyle, culture, etc.) would not have been put aside, the exercise would still be incomplete, or even irrelevant.  

The flavour of a city or more precisely its brand is in the end entirely experiential, perceptual and continuously changing. Branding an urban area is first and foremost a spatial practice, insofar as it is related to the systematic management of the physical space as an extension or representation of the city brand. Therefore, the application of the city strategy (based on the attraction of inbound investment, talents, tourism or other factors) is referring to the double activities of modifying the visible and invisible features of an urban area, in term of brand or landscape. At Total Identity, we call this dual exercise: brandscaping. 

The City Brandscaping Model is a mapping tool developed by Total Identity to help city councils, marketers and area planners to define what makes our cities unique. The City Brandscaping Model helps in the building process of a strong brand sustained by the city architecture, identity and stakeholders.  

According to our needs and goals, the City Brandscaping Model can draw patterns and inferences by considering both quantitative and qualitative sets of data in eight core dimensions that can be explored independently:

  • Technology: Relation to novelty is studied with factors like the number of innovations, start-ups and research centers. 
  • Demography: Relation with other people and communities, educational attainment, Employment, income, poverty and social welfare efficiency.
  • Government: Weight of political decision-making and policy with the overall political stability.
  • Traditional city: The heritage and history of one city along with its sense of local community and origin. 
  • Sustainability: Perceived quality of the city’s natural environment (green spaces, lifestyle of the residents, management of energy and waste). 
  • Infrastructure and buildings: Perceived quality of the city’s built environment and infrastructure.
  • Economy: Economic power of the city’s economic actors and structures including all profit organisation as well as its financial institutions (e.g. banks, stock exchanges). 
  • Creative city: A city’s key artistic and recreational institutions and attractions, along with all the components of its art scene. 

The City Brandscaping Model will help us map the city brand image, and more importantly brand the right aspects of the city for the right target group, and shape the city identity.

By grasping in one flexible model the attitudes, beliefs and opinions of the ones living the city, we are able to draw true persona of the city from a local, national or international point of view. When considering the respondents’ backgrounds (residents, visitors or investors), the City Brandscaping Model will allow us to make inferences about the larger population they represent, and give us detailed insights about their perceptions of the city. The results will accurately display what are the city’s key forces and weaknesses and give us precise information about the perceptual aspect of place.

The brandscaping model is an original instrument that will help us make the right decisions to shape tomorrow’s economic health of our cities.

Like you would find in a dictionary, a city can be defined as a large town or a human settlement in a peculiar area, but we, as strategists, marketers, and communication managers, we will mostly be dissatisfied with this simple, vague and somehow loose definition. It certainly does not encompass specific considerations (as relation to technology, history, level of education) nor does it help us to brand a city. After all what is a city, if not a unique environment composed of both tangible and immaterial attributes, with multiple layers of purposes as well as myriads of sub-brands?

To find out more about our work for The City Brandscaping Model, please contact us directly 

Bob van der Lee

Managing director, Total Identity
T +31 20 750 95 58