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The Inaugural Brand Finance City Index: Introduction

Brand Finance
15 May 2024
Laurence Newell
Managing Director,
Brand Finance North America

I am pleased to present the inaugural Brand Finance US City Index, a data-driven exploration of how American cities are perceived by the general public nationwide. The index surveys opinions of more than 10,000 respondents on the top 50 city brands in the United States, and offers a roadmap to how American cities can shape their brand strategies.

The Brand Finance US City Index is a new study that further expands Brand Finance's extensive offering in place branding and complements our annual reports on Nation Brands and Soft Power, which are widely recognized as industry benchmarks, as well as our Brand Finance Global City Index launched last year. Our purpose is to emphasize the importance of city brands and the benefits of possessing a strong and valuable city brand.

To construct a holistic evaluation of city brands, our survey delved into respondents’ general impressions, measuring Familiarity, Reputation, and Consideration across seven dimensions: living, working locally and remotely, studying, retiring, visiting, and investing, alongside 40+ city brand attributes.

This methodology not only allows cities ranked in the index to identify their strengths and weaknesses versus competitors. It has also generated a precise toolkit, developed by our team through robust statistical analysis of drivers behind reputation and consideration, which can empower any American city, big or small, to craft a tailored brand strategy.

The benefits of a strong city brand

Cities that cultivate a positive and resilient city brand reap multifaceted rewards. Foremost among these is the capacity to attract tourism, investment, and talent. A favorable city brand entices visitors and attracts investment and economic opportunities, fostering growth and prosperity. Perhaps surprisingly, Honolulu has claimed the top spot in this inaugural Index, underscoring the influence of a well-rounded city brand propelled by its flourishing tourism sector and vibrant job market.

The presence of three Florida cities – Orlando, Miami, and Tampa – among the top 10 indicates a consistent pattern of what US respondents perceive as attractive qualities in a city. All three cities are highly regarded for their liveability and are unsurprisingly perceived as appealing destinations for leisure and tourism.

As someone who calls Dallas home, I've witnessed firsthand the transformative power of a robust city brand. The Texas Triangle, also known as Texaplex, contains the state’s five largest cities: Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. All have emerged as economic powerhouses, attracting major corporations enticed by the state's business environment.

We envision this report as the start of many, initiating conversations on the value of place brands and providing a reference point for decision-makers. At Brand Finance, we firmly believe in their significance. A city with a shared identity and vision, both internally and externally, fosters a sense of belonging among its residents while also creating opportunities on a national and global scale.

About the Author

Brand Finance is the world’s leading independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy. Headquartered in the City of London, we are present in over 20 countries.

For almost 30 years we have helped companies and organisations of all types to connect their brands to the bottom line.