Many cities in Europe and around the world are implementing their place branding projects, trying to achieve visibility in a changing economic and social context, promoting their values, cultural heritage and visions for the future.
Building a city brand based on strategic positioning, which is formed after conducting surveys, research and analytical work, allows the city to create a comprehensive identity program that can satisfy all the needs of target groups and create a reserve for the development of the project in the future.
Proper city branding gives the place a new attractive look, helps to correctly place accents, highlight advantages, show advantages and level infrastructure shortcomings or negative attitudes in the perception of people. An accurate identity can visually embody the accepted positioning of a city and make it understandable to both locals and tourists and investors, thereby attracting funding and creating new jobs. Branding creates effective communication that speaks about the tourist potential of a place, as well as revealing its value as a modern and comfortable environment for living, working and relaxing.
In this article, we will look at modern achievements in the field of territorial branding, which, as of 2022, have already been developed and successfully used by cities.
Territorial branding for the city of Porto was handled by White Studio. The designers faced the difficult task of creating a living and evolving system for identifying this city with its character, history, sights, holidays, events, residents' activity and administration initiatives.
After conducting a survey, the designers realized that the citizens' idea of Porto has its own individual characteristics: the degree of significance of certain places and events in the history of each citizen is different. The creators of the corporate identity wanted every citizen to feel their involvement in the life of Porto, so that the identity would express all the diversity of opinions and views.
Porto is a city with a strong character, so its logo is very concise and capacious, the dot after the word “Porto” speaks for itself. Simple, geometric font design, two options for use: a blue logo framed by a frame and a white, inverted logo on a blue background.
The designers were inspired by the stories depicted on the traditional blue tiles present in the architecture and decoration of the city, and created about 70 icons united by common graphic principles. The number of new icons is constantly updated, taking into account the recommendations of residents and administration. These icons are placed together following the laws of the developed modular system and create extensive narrative panels, conveying information and broadcasting the values of the city's residents.
The result is an open and multifaceted identity system that can grow and develop alongside the dynamic and vibrant city of Porto.
Corporate identity of the city of Porto, Portugal
The corporate identity of the city of Melbourne is perhaps one of the most striking and spectacular examples of successful territorial branding. The Landor branding team sought to create an identity for Melbourne, defining the character of the city and creating a future-oriented image.
Initially, desk research and interviews were conducted, within which answers were obtained to the following main questions: what is the city like, what is happening in it and how, what is the vision of the future of the city? This made it possible to identify and formulate the main ideas of the city brand. Based on the information received, a comprehensive and strategic branding program was built.
The city of Melbourne has a multifaceted character: from imperious, reserved and serious to bright, emotional and passionate. The diversity and versatility of Melbourne have become the main concepts, in visual identification this was fully expressed through colors, shapes, edges, structures.
The branding team and customer wanted to create a multi-faceted and progressive identity, just like the city itself. A far-sighted approach to the development of the logo design, the rules for its use in communications, advertising, sponsorships, in three-dimensional environments and on signs, allowed us to create a dynamic, changeable and creative image.
The shape of the letter "M", built on an isometric grid, made it possible to fill it with diverse and bright geometric graphics, in which one can trace the harmonious structure and logic. This gives the identity recognition and integrity. The Landor team also created extensive guides and illustrations to help roll out Melbourne's new identity. The corporate identity guide includes a flexible logo system, color scheme, typography, photographs, illustrations, graphics, design principles, and templates. Despite the logic, orderliness, rules and guidelines, Melbourne's branding system is very flexible, it has room for initiative and creative interpretation, which will allow it to successfully live and develop, remaining bright and interesting for many years to come.
Corporate identity of the city of Melbourne, Australia
The City of Bologna was one of the first Italian cities to recognize the need for branding in order to maintain and develop the city's activities, both in the eyes of tourists and locals. First, a strategic plan was drawn up to determine the positioning of Bologna in order to promote the city not only in Italy, but throughout the world.
Creating the positioning of the city proved to be a very difficult and confusing task, as it was difficult to identify one single story that would need to be conveyed to the audience. The work began with a survey among employees of the city administration, universities, trade fairs, the airport and other institutions. With the help of the received questionnaires and their subsequent analysis, it was possible to formulate an idea of positive and negative associations among people associated with the city, and come to the main aspects of positioning necessary for inclusion in the created brand.
Having collected all the data at the stage of analytics, a brief was drawn up, including the vision of the city, which should be built when developing territorial branding. Bologna is a city that does not impose itself, where travelers feel at home. The city offers everyone the opportunity to make their own route to explore the past and the present, draw their own conclusions. Bologna is a modern city associated with art, it is constantly evolving, and does not stand frozen and museumified. Also, the past and present of the city is closely connected with culinary traditions, food in Bologna is an integral element of its culture.
The city administration announced a competition for the creation of an identification system, as a result of which 524 proposals were received from 17 countries. The jury of the competition chose the project of designers Matteo Bartoli and Michele Pastore, as their project included answers to all the points presented in the brief.
The designers developed an abstract alphabet of geometric shapes inspired by the architectural details of the city's famous buildings. Each letter of the alphabet they assigned its own special geometric shape. A program was also developed, posted on the Internet, where anyone can enter a word and get a unique and very expressive sign created from overlapping geometric shapes corresponding to the letters of the word being entered. Shapes line up around a central point, concentrically, according to the grid, and overlap each other semi-transparently. The color scheme is selected based on dichromatic combinations when the user adjusts the color selection slider. The input word, denoted in the light font "Caliber" from the "Klim Type Foundry", is always appended with the phrase "è Bologna" ("this is Bologna"), in bold in the same font. For example, entering the word "Storia" ("History"), the phrase "Storia è Bologna" ("History is Bologna") is obtained. Such a game is endless and can include both specific words (then the logo is created personally for an event or an infrastructure object of the city), and inspiring abstract concepts that people perceive about the city. With the help of the online tool, anyone, whether a city dweller or a traveler, will be able to contribute to the creation of an archive of signs and concepts related to Bologna, creating their own “fragment” of the visual and conceptual identity of the city. Such a system of city identification will continue to evolve over time, reflecting current changes and the vision of people, creating a collective history of the city.
Corporate identity of the city of Bologna, Italy
Kaposvár is a city in the southwest of Hungary, 189 km from Budapest, it stands on the Kapos River. The population of the city is 64 thousand people. The city has a fairly ancient history, it was first mentioned in a document dated 1009. In the 15th century, a fortress was built in Kaposvár, the city came under the control of Turkey for more than a hundred years, and then returned again to the rule of Hungary.
A city with picturesque old streets and architectural monuments needed the right approach when creating branding to reflect not only history, but also find the best vectors to express its present and future.
Miklos Kiss, a designer and visual artist based in Budapest, has developed a branding project for Kaposvár. According to the designer, the most difficult task for him was to determine what the branding of the city should consist of, he wanted to create not just an ordinary logo-based identification system, but an integrated solution. For Miklos Kiss, it was extremely important when working on the project to start with an understanding of the global challenges facing branding. First, a city branding strategy was defined and important identity points were created. The logo design is based on the architecture of the city center, and the identity elements included the painting of the great Hungarian artist József Rippl-Rónai, who was originally from Kaposvár. As part of the branding of the city, printing, various souvenirs, packaging design for some local products, commemorative books and brochures were developed. A series of icons was created for the urban space, a navigation system was developed, information plates for city buildings were designed. Layouts of outdoor advertising were developed, telling about the sights, announcing exhibitions. Exhibition spaces were also designed within the framework of the corporate identity.
The well-executed, well-thought-out territorial branding of the city of Kaposvár helps to make the small provincial town more attractive in the eyes of both locals and visitors to the city, attracts investment and develops the urban environment.
Corporate identity of the city of Kaposvár, Hungary
Before the implementation of the branding project for the city of Helsinki, it did not have a single corporate identity, and city departments and projects each had their own identity, which was not consistent with each other. Only the coat of arms of Helsinki was a definite constant among the variety of styles of various organizations associated with the city, but its use had its limitations and problems.
Helsinki undertook a reform of the city system and formed a new goal - to create the most functional city in the world, which led to the need to develop a thoughtful city branding. The local agency Werklig was chosen to develop the brand system for the city.
The project turned out to be large-scale and exciting, it became the largest project among those implemented in Finland. The global branding goal was to create a city identity that, while respecting the past and traditions, would be modern, adaptive and universal.
The target audience was all people who interact with the city in one way or another: from city employees to ordinary citizens, tourists, immigrants and other groups. A large audience was one of the determining factors that required the creation of a flexible, memorable, easy-to-use identity.
The traditional coat of arms of Helsinki, which is about 400 years old, became the basis for the new logo. It was created in such a way as to be adaptive not only to the environment of use, but could be changed to accommodate the spelling of the name of the city of Helsinki in different languages of the world.
The stylized wave element and its variations were also borrowed from the coat of arms. The wave motif is a nod to the coastal location, architectural details, and city experience. This motif works as a stylistic and recognizable element that, in addition to the logo, helps to create a clear graphic identity for the city. The entire identity is built on emotional and understandable messages for a wide audience.
The chosen color palette is related to the visual perception of Helsinki: it includes colors inspired by the dome of the Helsinki Cathedral, the Suomenlinna sea fortress, and colors adopted in the public transport system that have already become familiar, as well as tones taken from the city's old coat of arms.
The Helsinki Grotesk font family was specially designed for the city's identity system by the Camelot Typefaces team. This is a laconic grotesque with details borrowed from the plastic movement of the wave, as one of the style-forming elements of the identity. This font is used in all communications of the Helsinki brand: from business cards, to signage and the digital environment.
For the visual language of the brand, a special photo style was also developed, it touched not only photos, but also video images. The general direction for all visual content can be summed up in a unifying phrase: “no filter.” This allows you to show the city as it really is.
Helsinki's branding is consistent with the image of the city and its aspirations. Now, using the entire system created, the city authorities can draw more attention to various projects and work more efficiently. In addition, the use of a new identity will allow the administration to save money.
For city dwellers, branding Helsinki means better marketing and information about the city's services, citizen-centric messaging and clearer communication in general. Also, the branding system will allow Helsinki to stand out from other cities and be perceived as an attractive, modern, functional and pleasant place to live, work and play.
Corporate identity of the city of Helsinki, Finland
Publication date: 10 March 2022