Manila has 'worst' brand value - survey

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Sep 17 2012 09:39 PM | Updated as of Sep 20 2012 05:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Manila has the "worst" brand value among 16 Asia-Pacific cities, according to the Location Branding 2012 report published by Public Affairs Asia and Ogilvy Public Relations.

In the City Brand Rankings, Manila had the lowest score with 5.6, along with Jakarta (5.9).

"The reputation of these two South East Asian nations is impeded by poor infrastructure, fears over safety, concern about corruption and regular word of mouth accounts of poor visitor experiences," the report said.

The ranking is based on a survey of 300 senior corporate communications and public affairs practitioners operating in Asia Pacific between June 20 and August 21, 2012.

They were asked to rate the brand value of 16 cities on a scale of 10 (excellent) to zero (poor).

Singapore topped the list, with a score of 9.7 out of 10.

"The gleaming city state embodies many of the positive brand attributes our survey identified: it is low-tax, clean, safe, politically stable – and is developing a thriving arts, gaming and leisure scene," the report said.

The location branding report emphasized the importance of branding in economic and social development of towns, cities and countries.

"But in this increasingly competitive region, getting branding right is central to economic success,
both for today’s iconic cities as well as for those seeking to emulate locations which have already established global brand recognition," the report said.

Right brand to attract investors, tourists

While the Department of Tourism has already launched the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" campaign year, it appears that it hasn't made much of an impact based on the results of the City Brand Rankings.

With the Philippines ranking last in the list, it appears that the government should take heed of the report's findings on how to formulate the right branding campaign to attract investors and tourists.

The survey showed that a location's brand is a significant factor in attracting foreign investments and tourists.

Key attributes that are important in attracting investors are business operating environment, political stability, built environment and infrastructure, and availability of qualified labor.

To gain tourists, the location should have a brand campaign focused on the arts, culture, food and heritage.

Other important factors are availability of hotel and leisure facilities, natural environment and shopping facilities.

"In general, the positive attributes people like to see in cities are the polar opposite of the negatives – they
want urban environments to be clean, not dirty and governments to be stable, rather than clinging to office by their fingertips," the report said.

The brand should not just have a good and catchy message, but should also be rooted in reality.

"But building positive brand value involves more than simply overcoming negative perceptions about social and environmental issues. Building an iconic location brand needs a well-honed arrative which marries marketing and messaging with real-life experiences which reflect the brand position."

The report warned that a "disconnect" with the brand and the actual experience of tourists can have a negative impact.

"A disconnect between the brand statement and the investor or visitor experience is likely to have negative
effects on development. As this research confirms, word of mouth heavily influences brand reputation, so the real situation within locations has to live up to the branding," it said.

The City Brand Rankings

1. Singapore 9.7
2. Hong Kong 9.5
3. Sydney 9.5
4. Tokyo 9.2
5. Melbourne 8.8

6. Shanghai 8.5
7. Seoul 8.2
8. Osaka/Kobe 8
9. Bangkok 7.9
10.Beijing 7.9

11.Kuala Lumpur 7.4
12.Ho Chi Minh City 6.6
13.Mumbai 6.1
14.Delhi 6
15.Jakarta 5.9

16.Philippines 5.6