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Honolulu ranked best US city brand, three Florida cities make the top 10 in new perceptions study

15 May 2024
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New data from Brand Finance reveals what people in America really think of American cities

  • Honolulu named the top American city brand with high scores across travel, work, and sustainability metrics
  • Florida Man who? Orlando is ranked 2nd overall, with Miami following in 5th and Tampa in 7th
  • Texas is revealed as an unsung American business hub: Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston claim the top 3 spots for Business & Investment
  • Best sports towns: Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Boston take the win 
  • Famous cities may not be perceived as the most livable: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago all rank in the bottom 15 for consideration to live

15 May 2024, DALLAS Honolulu is America’s top-ranked city brand, according to new data from a survey of 10,000 US residents to learn their perceptions of American cities. The inaugural Brand Finance US City Index ranks the top 50 US cities, with winner Honolulu followed by sunny Orlando in 2nd place, and ‘Music City’ Nashville the 3rd ranked US city brand.

Known for its breathtaking natural beauty and as the gateway to the Hawaiian Islands, Honolulu is perceived as a top travel destination, ranking 1st for consideration to visit. Honolulu’s top rankings for consideration to invest and consideration to work locally are bolstered by its thriving tourism sector, service-driven job market, and low unemployment rates. Underscoring its commitment to environmental initiatives, Honolulu also ranks 1st nationwide for the Sustainability pillar, including 1st for being a clean city that cares about the environment, and 1st for its green spaces and recreation.

Florida’s cities shine in the latest ranking, with Orlando, Miami, and Tampa taking 2nd, 5th, and 7th place, respectively. Theme-park capital Orlando leads the trio, ranking 2nd for consideration to visit, and 4th for being fun. Miami, the glamorous coastal hotspot, ranks 4th for its great shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. Meanwhile, Tampa cements its status as one of America’s most accessible and livable cities, leading the Index for the attribute of being accessible to the elderly and to people with disabilities.

Texan cities, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston, claim the top three positions in Business & Investment, solidifying the Texas Triangle's journey towards becoming the nation's economic powerhouse. Notably, tech giants like Tesla and Oracle have recently moved their headquarters to Austin, attracted by the state's favorable business climate characterized by low taxes and moderate regulation. Austin and Houston rank 1st and 2nd, respectively, for attractive corporate taxation, while San Antonio ranks 3rd.

Boston, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh lead the way for perceptions of their famous sports teams. Boston and Pittsburgh’s perceptions are based on long histories, strong tradition, and notoriously loyal fan bases, while Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s high-profile relationship with megastar Taylor Swift has recently boosted awareness of Kansas as a sports town.  

While major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago rank higher globally in the Brand Finance Global City Index published in 2023, they score lower in the US-focused study published in 2024, indicating a disconnect between international and domestic perceptions. Despite being among the most famous US cities, their national reputations and appeal suffer from poor scores in areas like governance, crime, and trustworthiness. This suggests that renown alone does not guarantee a positive city brand image among Americans, highlighting opportunities to address challenges and boost national standing.

Laurence Newell, Managing Director, Brand Finance Americas, commented,

“The inaugural Brand Finance US City Index provides fascinating insights into nationwide perceptions of America's top cities. Cities scoring the highest are those which offer a combination of desirable living, working, and visiting experiences. This is evidenced by Florida boasting three cities in the top 10, underscored by their appeal as both tourism hubs and as hugely desirable places to live. We can also see that Culture & Heritage significantly boosts a city’s appeal; notable performers being sports-centric cities like Boston and Pittsburgh who score big for their infamous sporting legacies. Interestingly, renowned cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, while celebrated globally, face challenges domestically, underscoring the importance of addressing local perceptions to bolster national standing."

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Media Contacts

Florina Cormack-Loyd
Communications Director - North America
Brand Finance

About Brand Finance

Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Bridging the gap between marketing and finance for more than 25 years, Brand Finance evaluates the strength of brands and quantifies their financial value to help organizations of all kinds make strategic decisions.

Headquartered in London, Brand Finance has offices in over 20 countries, offering services on all continents. Every year, Brand Finance conducts more than 5,000 brand valuations, supported by original market research, and publishes over 100 reports which rank brands across all sectors and countries.

Brand Finance also operates the Global Brand Equity Monitor, conducting original market research annually on over 5,000 brands, surveying more than 150,000 respondents across 38 countries and 31 industry sectors. Combining perceptual data from the Global Brand Equity Monitor with data from its valuation database enables Brand Finance to arm brand leaders with the data and analytics they need to enhance brand and business value.

Brand Finance is a regulated accountancy firm, leading the standardization of the brand valuation industry. Brand Finance was the first to be certified by independent auditors as compliant with both ISO 10668 and ISO 20671 and has received the official endorsement of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) in the United States.

Definition of Brand

Brand is defined as a marketing-related intangible asset including, but not limited to, names, terms, signs, symbols, logos, and designs, intended to identify goods, services, or entities, creating distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders, thereby generating economic benefits.

Brand Strength

Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors. Brand Finance evaluates brand strength in a process compliant with ISO 20671, looking at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance. The data used is derived from Brand Finance’s proprietary market research programme and from publicly available sources.

Each brand is assigned a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score out of 100, which feeds into the brand value calculation. Based on the score, each brand is assigned a corresponding Brand Rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.

Brand Valuation Approach

Brand Finance calculates the values of brands in its rankings using the Royalty Relief approach – a brand valuation method compliant with the industry standards set in ISO 10668. It involves estimating the likely future revenues that are attributable to a brand by calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for its use, to arrive at a ‘brand value’ understood as a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.

The steps in this process are as follows:

1 Calculate brand strength using a balanced scorecard of metrics assessing Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and Business Performance. Brand strength is expressed as a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score on a scale of 0 to 100.

2 Determine royalty range for each industry, reflecting the importance of brand to purchasing decisions. In luxury, the maximum percentage is high, while in extractive industry, where goods are often commoditised, it is lower. This is done by reviewing comparable licensing agreements sourced from Brand Finance’s extensive database.

3 Calculate royalty rate. The BSI score is applied to the royalty range to arrive at a royalty rate. For example, if the royalty range in a sector is 0-5% and a brand has a BSI score of 80 out of 100, then an appropriate royalty rate for the use of this brand in the given sector will be 4%.

4 Determine brand-specific revenues by estimating a proportion of parent company revenues attributable to a brand.

5 Determine forecast revenues using a function of historic revenues, equity analyst forecasts, and economic growth rates.

6 Apply the royalty rate to the forecast revenues to derive brand revenues.

7 Discount post-tax brand revenues to a net present value which equals the brand value.


Brand Finance has produced this study with an independent and unbiased analysis. The values derived and opinions presented in this study are based on publicly available information and certain assumptions that Brand Finance used where such data was deficient or unclear. Brand Finance accepts no responsibility and will not be liable in the event that the publicly available information relied upon is subsequently found to be inaccurate. The opinions and financial analysis expressed in the study are not to be construed as providing investment or business advice. Brand Finance does not intend the study to be relied upon for any reason and excludes all liability to any body, government, or organisation.

The data presented in this study form part of Brand Finance's proprietary database, are provided for the benefit of the media, and are not to be used in part or in full for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

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