London has earned the highest reputation rating in Reputation Institute’s 2011 City RepTrak, an annual study that assesses public perceptions of 100 cities, representing some 59 countries.
The study 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 other major 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,” says Nicolas Trad, executive partner of Reputation Institute, a global consulting firm.
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, the study says.
When contacted about the study’s findings, London & Partners’ Chief Executive Gordon Innes said, “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.”
Geneva, too, seems to be reaping the benefits of its recent efforts, which include a branding campaign launched last year. Reputation Institute ranked Geneva as the second most reputable city in the world.
In its analysis, the study comparing the results 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, the Institute said.
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 U.S. 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," the Institute said.
Importantly, 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,” says Kasper Nielsen, executive partner of Reputation Institute.