Territory Branding 2022
City identity

Ter­rit­ori­al brand­ing: cor­por­ate iden­tity for the city

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.

Territorial brandingTerritory brandingCity branding

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.

City identityTerritorial brandingTerritory branding

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.

City brandingCity identity

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.

Territorial brandingTerritory brandingCity brandingCity identityTerritorial branding

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.

Territory brandingCity brandingCity identity

Cor­por­ate iden­tity of the city of Hel­sinki, Fin­land

Publication date: 10 March 2022