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San Francisco Lands among Top 10 City Brands in Latest Anholt-GfK Ranking

February 3, 2018 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

In its first year of inclusion in the Anholt-GfK City Brands Index (CBI℠) study, San Francisco surpassed many of the world’s great cities to enter the ranking at #9 – knocking Washington, DC, out of the Top 10 in the process.

The biennial study also shows New York slipping one place, from #3 in 2015 (the year of the last CBI study) to #4. Los Angeles held on to the #5 ranking, while Washington DC fell from #10 to #13. Boston, which also had its CBI℠ debut this year, came in at #19.

As in 2015, people chose Paris as the #1 city brand among 50 measured cities – the fourth time Paris has taken the top spot since the study began 9 years ago. All of the top 10 cities that appeared in the 2015 CBI increased their overall scores, making this a year of strong competition.

2017 rank City 2015 rank

Score change
2017 vs. 2015

1 Paris 1 +0.51
2 London 2 +0.52
3 Sydney 4 +0.97
4 New York 3 +0.67
5 Los Angeles 5 +0.91
6 Rome 6 +0.65
7 Melbourne 9 +1.64
8 Amsterdam 8 +1.36
9 San Francisco n/a n/a
10 Berlin 7 +0.75

CBI℠ scores range from 1-100. Score changes: small: +/-0.26-0.50; medium: +/-0.51-1.00; large: > +/-1.00

City Brands Index research – conducted in September and October 2017 – evaluates the power and appeal of each city’s image, providing a holistic and detailed perspective based on six key dimensions:

  • Presence (the city’s international status and standing)
  • Place (its physical outdoors aspect and transport)
  • Prerequisites (basic requirements, such as affordable accommodations and the standard of public amenities)
  • People (friendliness, cultural diversity, how safe one feels)
  • Pulse (interesting things to do)
  • Potential (the economic and educational opportunities available).

San Francisco scored among the top 10 cities in four of the six metrics – #9 for People and #10 for Place, Prerequisites, and Pulse (#10).

CBI also demonstrates the precariousness of cities relying on their nations’ brands. A number of cities underperform their nation’s standing as established in last year’s Nation Brands Index℠. Berlin is a prime example, just managing to hold onto a spot within the top tier of cities. “This might be surprising, given that Germany as a country took 1st place in the 2017 Nation Brands Index rankings and boasted the most balanced image of all nations surveyed,” said Vadim Volos, Senior Vice President of Social and Strategic Research and head of CBI℠ at GfK. ”This shows that cities cannot rest on their nation’s brand; they must cultivate their own unique images, as well.“

Western cities tend to dominate the top half of cities; and in previous years, Western cities benefited noticeably more than Eastern cities in the global public’s estimations. The 2017 CBI shows a change in fortunes, with marked improvement for many that are not constrained by region or developmental stage. For example, Tokyo is one of only a handful of non-Western cities that resides within the top half of cities. After experiencing a score decline in 2013, Tokyo has rebuilt and grown its image in the two consecutive CBI studies. Tokyo enjoys the greatest score gain of any city (+1.79) in 2017’s CBI, tying for 11th position with Vancouver and surpassing Madrid, Barcelona, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Vienna.

Looking at CBI’s Middle Eastern and African regions, Dubai is the only city within this region measured that does not rest within the bottom tier of cities. Dubai falls narrowly outside the top half (27th), with its Presence (15th) and Place (16th) rankings anchoring and propelling its image. Though Dubai is the city within the region with the best reputation, Durban wins the award for most improved (+1.51), which allows it to surpass Cairo.

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