City Branding is not about the logo

Prior ECM Spring Meeting in Madrid that will address the theme of City branding democratisation we asked a few questions to Robert Govers, Managing Research Partner at Good.Country and Founding Chairman of the International Place Branding Association (IPBA), about his vision of City Branding.

Robert Govers

Robert Govers

Could you explain us in a few words what is city branding?

City Branding is about understanding, measuring, influencing and managing the way in which cities are admired and recognized by foreign, domestic and internal audiences. This is important because awareness and reputation are essential prerequisites for attracting and retaining tourists, traders, investors, students and residents.

How has city branding evolved during the last 15 years?

Luckily, we are slowly moving away from the idea that city branding is largely about logos, slogans and advertising campaigns. Although these tools might have an important role to play in commercial branding, we know by now that they have a very limited use for places. Many scholars, consultants and practitioners have come to realize that the application of the concept of ‘brand’ to places is rather complex and requires thorough consideration and appreciation of the importance of identity, culture, engagement, collaboration or (social) media.

What is the most important city branding advice(s) that you would like to give to ECM Members when you meet them in Madrid this week?

 Well, I’d like to ask the members to wait for the conclusions that I will formulate at the end of my presentation, but to lift some of the veil, it’s not about marketing, but about community, identity, collaboration, substance and engagement. To quote Simon Anholt, members really need to understand that city branding “is a landscape made of culture and psychology, not economics and politics”. I understand that this might sound counterintuitive, but I hope that delegates will start to appreciate this position and its relevance when we meet in Madrid. Looking forward to it.


Welcome to the Age of Democratic City Branding:  At the Madrid Spring Meeting, February 24-27th ECM and Madrid Destino proudly presents a parade of thought leading international experts and experienced city brand marketeers who will share their most valuable insights and learnings for a full two-day conference on the latest trends, the pitfalls and the up sides of a branding discipline undergoing rapid change. Learn more about the conference here.


European Cities Marketing is a non-profit organisation improving the competitiveness and performance of leading cities of Europe by providing a platform for convention, leisure and city marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practice and widen their network to build new business. European Cities Marketing is promoting and linking the interests of members from more than 100 major cities in 36 countries.

Contact information
Flavie Baudot,, +33 380 56 02 00