With a score of 84.6/100, London tops the inaugural Brand Finance City Index, based on a global survey of 15,000. New York and Paris are close behind in 2nd and 3rd among 100 cities in the ranking. Dubai proves its reputation as the top city brand in the Middle East, claiming a place in the global top 10.
LONDON – London has been named the best city brand in the world, followed by New York and Paris, by the inaugural Brand Finance City Index. Presented by brand evaluation consultancy Brand Finance, the ranking is based on a global survey of close to 15,000 members of the public conducted in April 2023 in 20 countries on all continents to measure perceptions of the world’s top 100 cities. With a score of 84.6 out of 100, driven by its high familiarity among respondents worldwide, London has recorded stronger brand perceptions than any other city in the study. Familiarity is understood as knowledge about the city gained through repeated exposure or direct experience, and it allows to form a deeper affinity for its brand.
David Haigh, Chairman & CEO of Brand Finance, commented: “London’s exceptional performance in the Index can be attributed to its global familiarity. Coming first on this particular measure, London has a huge advantage over its peers, leading to its success in the ranking overall as the world’s best city. Knowing a city allows the public to form positive perceptions about it – to recognise its reputation and to consider it as the preferred place to live, work, study, retire, visit, or invest. High familiarity means a deeper understanding of its qualities and a broader reach of its appeal, allowing the city to draw significant economic benefits from inbound migration, investment, and tourism.”
To arrive at a comprehensive assessment of the city brands in the ranking, alongside measuring familiarity, the survey asked the respondents about the general reputation and their personal consideration of each city as a place to live, work locally, work remotely, study, retire, visit, or invest in. The evaluation of preferences across these seven dimensions was complemented by perceptions of 45 underlying city brand attributes, grouped under seven pillars, such as Business & Investment or Sustainability & Transport.
Crowned as the overall winner, London ranks 1st in two of the seven key dimensions – study and visit – as well as in the top 4 in all other ones.
Renowned as a hub for academic excellence, London is ranked as the best city globally to study. The British capital hosts top universities – such as University College London, King’s College London, Imperial College London, and the London School of Economics, while prestigious schools in and near London that prepare for university – like Eton and Harrow –attract students from around the world. It is no surprise that the city comes 1st globally for great universities and great private schools.
Thanks to iconic landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London, and renowned cultural institutions like the British Museum, National Gallery, and the West End theatre district, London is a prime tourist destination. London’s top global ranking as the best city to visit, is supported by its 3rd place for great museums and art galleries and great theatres and music venues. The appeal of London can also be attributed to its strong identity and character, where London ranks 3rd globally.
Everyone wants a bite of the Big Apple, coming 2nd behind only London
New York City has secured 2nd spot, behind London, with a Brand Finance City Index score of 83.0 out of 100. NYC also ranks 3rd globally in familiarity and boasts 2nd spot in three out of the seven key dimensions: invest, study, and visit.
Widely regarded as the global capital of finance, NYC ranks 2nd behind only Zurich as the best city to invest in. It comes 1st for the city of global significance, easy to do business in, and strong and stable economy attributes, which explains its appeal to investors.
Home to several of the world’s most esteemed universities – including Columbia, NYU, and the City University of New York – the Big Apple has also been recognised as the 2nd best city in the world to study in behind only London. It is 2nd for the great universities and leader in science and technology attributes, comes 4th for great private schools, but falls much behind London on great publicly funded schools, ranking 41st overall. In general, NYC is perceived as the least affordable city in the ranking, coming 100th.
Ranking 1st for great shopping, restaurants and nightlife and 2nd for great theatres and music venues, home to Fifth Avenue shops and Broadway theatres, NYC lives up to its name as the ‘city that never sleeps’. As a result, NYC ranks as the 2nd best city in the world to visit.
Paris is in vogue, ranked 3rd in the world
Paris rounds off the podium, coming 3rd in the ranking with a Brand Finance City Index score of 79.7 out of 100. Paris is also ranked as the world’s 2nd most familiar city.
Complementing its strong familiarity score, the ‘City of Love’ is also ranked as the 3rd best city in the world to visit. Boasting an abundance of renowned attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the Moulin Rouge, Paris unsurprisingly scores better than any other city in the Culture & Heritage pillar, ranking 1st globally for beautiful architecture, great museums and galleries, and great theatres and music venues. The French capital also performs strongly in People & Values, ranking 2nd globally for being open and welcoming, fun, and having a strong identity and character, but falling behind on being friendly where it ranks 25th – perhaps in line with stereotypes.
Dubai proves its reputation as the top city brand in the Middle East
Ranking 1st across the Middle East & Africa and 9th overall, Dubai comfortably makes the top 10 of the world’s best-perceived cities, with a Brand Finance City Index score of 75.8/100. Dubai has gained a reputation as the ‘City of Gold’ for being a major shopping destination for jewellery, but this title has grown to describe the city’s role in finance and trade more broadly. Dubai has performed well across multiple Business & Investment attributes, ranking 1st for future growth potential, 2nd in strong and stable economy, and 3rd behind only New York and London as a city of global significance.
More cities from outside Europe and North America have performed well in the Brand Finance City Ranking too. From Australia, Sydney ranks 5th overall, standing out as the best city to live in, 2nd best to work and retire in, 3rd best to study and invest in, and 5th best to visit. Singapore, 6th in the ranking, and Tokyo, 7th, are the best perceived cities from Asia. Singapore boasts strongest perceptions globally as great for startups and innovations as well as clean and sustainable. It is also 2nd for easy to do business in, and 3rd for both strong and stable economy and future growth potential. At the same time, Tokyo ranks 1st as the global leader in science and technology.
Zurich leads rankings as the best city in the world to work locally, work remotely, invest, and retire, but low familiarity undermines its reach
Zurich is a highly desirable destination to work locally, work remotely, invest, and retire, claiming the top spot for each dimension. The city scores exceptionally well on reputation (4th) and consideration (1st) when considering all seven dimensions combined too, but a low score on familiarity (53rd) prevents it from taking a higher spot in the overall Brand Finance City Index ranking (17th).
David Haigh, Chairman & CEO of Brand Finance, commented: “Zurich is a great example of a city brand successful in converting familiarity and perceptions into reputation and ultimately consideration. More so than for other cities, those that get to know Zurich, feel persuaded by its appeal as a destination, especially for work, investment, and retirement. Much like Swiss watch brands, Zurich is a “luxury city brand” – with a lower familiarity among the public, but a high regard among those that know it well. The trade-off of this positioning is a more modest reach than that of more popular city brands, such as London, New York, or Paris.”
Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.
She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.