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The city is the brand

Oslo Barcode I by Michel Krämer on

I was reading the internet this morning and I stumbled upon an interesting urban blogger from Oslo named Erling Fossen. Most of his writing is in Norwegian, but he does have a section called “City Notes” that is in English.

I enjoyed this paragraph titled, "The city is brand.” It is taken from a post called, “7 lessons from Oslo Urban Arena.”

As cities compete to attract talents, companies and investment, many cities have branded themselves as either the most creative city in the world, the smartest or the most liveable. In many occasions cities develop slogans to go with the message. But as brand expert Martin Boisen said: No one has ever moved to a city due to a logo. Action speaks louder than logos. Branding cities can actually be helpful. The world is a stage, and your city has a role to play. The first message is to avoid being a copy cat and focus on your own uniqueness. It is also just as important to involve a larger community to make branding work. It takes a village to brand a place. Equally important is to have strong leadership communicating the message. Strong leaders can rock the boat.

I’ve written about city branding quite a bit here and this has always been my message. An excellent city brand must stem from some form of reality. If you want to be the most creative or the greenest city in the world, then you have to live and breathe that philosophy.

I also feel strongly about not copying other cities. You might think that having (insert thing here), which was pioneered in (insert city here), will make you world-class. But that’s a pretty banal way of going about things.

Instead, to reiterate Fossen, focus on your own uniqueness. Then market the hell out of it.

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