London has earned the highest reputation rating in Reputation Institute’s 2011 City RepTrakTM, an annual study that assesses public perceptions of 100 cities, representing some 59 countries.
The annual study, which is conducted in partnership with Survey Sampling International(SSI), measures the overall trust, esteem, admiration and good feelings the public holds towards these cities, as well as perceptions across 13 different attributes relating to economy, administration and general appeal. Results from over 35,000 respondents in 15 countries showed that London scored well in all of these elements, followed by Geneva, Sydney and Vienna – with world cities like New York and Hong Kong trailing far behind in 25th and 46th places respectively.
“The study shows that a strong city reputation requires hard work across many different areas – having cultural appeal or being an international business hub is simply not enough,” said Nicolas Trad, executive partner of Reputation Institute, a global consulting firm specializing in reputation management.
Following a period of economic squeeze, London may find solace in the study’s findings as it gears up to host the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. When contacted about the study’s findings, London & Partners’ Chief Executive Gordon Innes said: “As the official promotional organization for London, we are delighted with this accolade recognizing our reputation as a world class city. The top rating demonstrates London’s enduring appeal to visitors, students and businesses. The many enhancements to the city in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will ensure the capital continues to be trusted and admired by the global community and Londoners alike.”
London’s efforts to stay at the top of its game were also reflected in recent comments made by its Mayor Boris Johnson in an interview with Management Today: “We want to make London the most positive, complete, attractive city to live in and invest in.”
Geneva, too, seems to be reaping the benefits of its recent efforts, which include a branding campaign launched last year. In response to Reputation Institute’s ranking of Geneva as the second most reputable city in the world, the Mayor of the City of Geneva Pierre Maudet commented, “The reputation of Geneva in the world is built upon its international appeal as well as the first-class lifestyle it offers. Questions of infrastructure and safety must, however, remain in the forefront of our concerns if we are to maintain this position.”
An interesting observation comes from comparing the results of this study with a parallel study of country reputations released by Reputation Institute in September 2011. Whereas the public gave top grades to Canada and Sweden, the major cities in those countries – namely Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Stockholm – ranked much lower in the city ranking. Conversely, top 10 rated cities fared much better than some of their home countries (including Italy, Spain, Austria, and the UK). The results demonstrate that cities can rise above national political and economic issues to build trust and admiration with the public.
Reputation Institute also measured the impact that people’s perceptions on the 13 attributes had on the cities’ overall reputation, and found that being perceived as “a safe city for visitors and residents” was the most important attribute to drive a city’s reputation. This could explain the relatively low ranking of US cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – all placed in the middle tier and all scoring poorly on safety in this study. Nevertheless, it didn’t prevent London from winning the top spot in the ranking overall, despite occupying the less-than-impressive 22nd place on safety.
Importantly, according to Reputation Institute, this year’s study found a direct link between cities’ reputation and people’s willingness to visit them or do business in them. “The study shows that people are almost 3 times more likely to visit cities ranked in the top 10 compared with those ranked in the bottom 10 of the reputation ranking,” said Kasper Nielsen, executive partner of Reputation Institute. “It confirms our belief that cities can gain a substantial return on their investments from applying our systematic reputation enhancement methodologies.”
SSI has offices in 15 countries and claims to provide data collection services to more than 1,800 clients, including 48 of the top 50 research organizations, while Reputation Institute describes itself as the world’s leading corporate reputation consulting firm. Founded in 1997, RI says it is currently in 30 countries.