When we think of the city of Barcelona, a whole imaginary comes to mind, a kind of identity formed by its most popular tourist sites, but also by a series of values or sensations associated with it. This is the Barcelona Brand. According to Saffron’s City Tourism Brand Barometer 2023, this brand is seventh worldwide. This ranking compiles a classification of the 109 cities with the strongest and fastest-growing tourism sectors. Barcelona, captivates visitors with its rich culture and awe-inspiring architecture like the Sagrada Familia Basilica, setting a vibrant backdrop for business opportunities. The city’s entrepreneurial and lively spirit, makes it an enticing hub for new talent and ventures.

Can cities be branded?

Yes, city branding or place branding is used to create or enhance a city brand. These terms are based on the idea that places – cities, regions, or states – can be understood as brands. In this way, marketing techniques can be applied to them to achieve greater economic and cultural development.

The world’s top city business brands. Barcelona is in top 10

City marketing can be defined as a vehicle for gaining a competitive advantage. It increases the attraction of investment and tourism, reinforcing local identity, and avoiding social exclusion. This advantage is achieved by communicating an attractive image of the city, evoking imagery, and controlling the tools to transform and explain the desired image. In cities with a well-established brand, companies will be keen to be associated with it. The city’s brand will have an impact on the values of the commercial brands.

What does the barometer measure?

The City Brand Barometer measures those aspects that tourists may want to consider when traveling. They first select 109 cities and look at the contribution of tourism to GDP. They also take into account emerging destinations, and try to get a balance to have representation from all continents. They also consider two separate measures, on the one hand, the city’s assets, what it has to offer; and on the other hand the reputation, how many people talk about it, and what their perception of the city is like.

How was the Barcelona brand consolidated?

If there is one event that helped internationalize the city and consolidate the brand, it is the 1992 Olympics. The Olympics put its hosts in the spotlight around the world. The opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympics was watched by almost six million viewers, making it the most-watched Olympic Games in history. In the case of Barcelona, it also involved a major urban transformation of the city, especially in the Olympic harbor.

Image from MNAC Barcelona

In any case, the Olympics were not the only major event that internationalized the city. In 1929, Barcelona hosted the Universal Exhibition, to which we owe several national pavilions, such as the German pavilion, the Magic Fountain, the MNAC, the renovation of the Gothic Quarter, the Teatre Grec, and the completion of Plaça Catalunya.

Sources: Fernando Rey, City Brand and the theory of social representation, Oliver Sutton, Barcelona y el City Branding: la ciudad como una corporación.

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