Barcelona, a global brand that sells
The Barcelona brand has major international strength and is associated with success, innovation, talent, creativity and a position at the cutting edge. And the city, whose international reputation is growing constantly, stands out in fields such as tourism, culture, architecture, cuisine, design, fashion, health, research, education, new technologies, but it is also a benchmark for the automobile, pharmaceutical and food industries. It is a centre where it is a pleasure to live and work.
Two studies conducted in 2011 by the ESADE Brand Institute headed by Josep Maria Oroval (“Barcelona in the eyes of the world” and “Strategic positioning of the Catalonia brand”), based on surveys of international professional sectors, emphasize interesting aspects such as that on an emotional level, the Barcelona brand competes with Berlin, Paris, New York, London and Rome, no less.
Change and invention
One of the major attributes of the Catalan capital is its position in the global world as a city of change and reinvention, with potential as a technological centre and online businesses. In the study mentioned above, it is described as an emerging hub for business, educational, scientific, technological and cultural innovation, but the fact of the matter is that it is already at the top of lists of business executives’ favourite cities, and isonly surpassed by Paris, London, Frankfurt and Brussels. It is at the top of the ranking as regards living conditions in virtually all the studies.
This combination of quality of life and digital and technological presence is what makes Barcelona a good place for developing new ideas and businesses: it is seen as the most attractive city to live in all the countries surveyed, ahead of London, Berlin and Madrid. Europeans (89%) and Latin Americans (93%) are those who find it most appealing. And the Internet undoubtedly contributes to this: Barcelona is currently the fourth most searched for city on Google, and no less than 939 million results appear for it.
Creating the brand
The global position and branding of a city are not created overnight. Factors include such diverse elements as the location of large companies or organizations, international transport and connections, universities, museums and cultural centres, the media, having hosted the Olympic Games and major international events, the size and population of the city, tourism, and the cosmopolitan atmosphere it exudes.
Barcelona has always been a city with a significant international presence (think of the great exhibitions of 1888 and 1929), but it was the 1992 Olympics Games that placed it on the map, to put it graphically, gave it an international profile and helped to make it one of the most famous and highly rated cities in the world.
Very varied factors have contributed to the “boom” in the Barcelona brand: the contribution of “Barça” – a global club like few others – is priceless, as is the profile provided by Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia, and the existence of large brands that are associated with the city such as Custo, Mango, Desigual, and Tous, among others. The film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which was not rated particularly highly by local audiences, helped to increase the Catalan capital’s international influence. But beyond all that, and at the very heart of the city’s dynamic, is its industrial, commercial and entrepreneurial spirit, without which neither the Eixample or modernisme would have existed, or the Liceu, the museums, good hospitals and research centres and generations of outstanding professionals.
There is a deep relationship between the brand and business tourism. After Vienna and Paris, Barcelona is the world’s leading congress destination. Fira de Barcelona is a major contributor to the city’s international positioning, with shows and events like Mobile World Congress, Barcelona Mobile World Capital, EIBTM, Carbon Expo, Smart City, Alimentaria, Piscina and Expoquimia, to name a just few, and major medical and technological congresses that will bring together more than 60,000 delegates in 2013 alone.
The prestige of the brand generates a “pull factor”, which in turn means that the expectations are met of visitors who are not merely tourists are met. Trade fairs and congresses interact and create synergies with the country’s organizations and businesses.
Barcelona has launched initiatives such as the Barcelona Growth Network, developed by the City Council, and ACC1Ó to promote international contacts; tourism and economic promotion campaigns to boost and protect the brand through the Barcelona Brand Promotion Council, in which business organizations participate. The city’s prestige must be maintained.