Top 5 city branding campaigns [CASES]

by Basiel

Every year, thousands of city branding campaigns are set up worldwide. Even you might have seen some campaigns from cities all around the world. This blog contains the 5 best city branding campaigns of all time and is the source of inspiration for your ideal place marketing campaign.

City branding is a popular element of place marketing:

1. New York

Even if you've never been to New York before you've certainly seen them before. The famous 'I < 3 New York' T-shirts are the symbol of the city that never sleeps.

Once times were different for the dreamy city. In the 70's the American Metropolis had a very bad image. Drugs, increasing crime and poverty are words that we don't easily associate with New York today, but they did at the time. Through the 'I Love New York' campaign, the city created the positive image we now have of New York.

July 15, 1977 was the day where the 'I Love New York' campaign started. A slogan, a logo and a song were the beginning of this action to attract tourists. The logo was exposed to tourists in different ways, so they could buy all kinds of gadgets.

The most famous item is the 'I Love New York' T-shirt. These shirts made New York visible worldwide. The tourists became walking billboards and urged other people to visit New York as well. At that point, a hype was created.

Did New York inspire you to start a merchandise campaign as well? Than you might want to check out our products.

Song of I Love New York:


T-shirts of I Love New York (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


2. Amsterdam

With 'I Amsterdam', the capital of the Netherlands had one of the most successful place marketing campaigns of all time.

The aim of the campaign was to rebrand Amsterdam. The northern city had problems with the increasing competition from surrounding cities, both in the Netherlands and abroad. It could no longer distinguish itself culturally. Further, social and economic competition also increased.

The 'I Amsterdam' campaign was launched in September 2004 to show that Amsterdam is more than just drugs and prostitution. The previous campaigns with slogans such as 'Amsterdam Has It' and 'Small City, Big Business' were too vague, so the city never stood out.

I Amsterdam is a concept that shows that everyone is part of Amsterdam. Each target group can identify with the Dutch capital on its own way.

The campaign became one of the most successful place marketing campaigns in the world and attracted millions of tourists to the Dutch capital. This resulted in an unprecedented economic boost. The restaurants, cafés, shops and tourist attractions attracted millions of tourists.


I Amsterdam (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


3. Melbourne

Melbourne doesn't have a well known monument like the Colosseum in Rome, The Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Chrysler Building in New York. It also has less to offer in terms of nature than other cities. So Melbourne had to deal with this situation creatively to target its audience in the right way.

In 2013, a long-term plan was drawn up with city branding to make the city a popular destination again. There was a complete rebranding with the new flashing logo 'M' that was displayed in different ways everywhere. A very successful campaign in which the diversity of the city is demonstrated. The letter 'M' was given different designs, that all reflect different people.

Another important aspect of the campaign was 'storytelling'. Melbourne wanted to be the destination where people could taste the culture, film, music, shopping and much more. The target groups would talk about this because word-of-mouth advertising is still one of the strongest tools. A successful campaign that is still talked about a lot up to now.

Look here at the different actions and logos of Melbourne.


The city branding of Melbourne (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


4. Paris

With over 17.4 million tourists a year, Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world. The French capital absolutely wants to stay in this list and has launched a brilliant city branding campaign to reach this objective.

When you ask someone what the most famous monument of the city of love is, the Eiffel Tower is almost always mentioned. Paris realized that it can put its monument in the spotlight and subtly changed the logo. The letter 'A' in the word Paris was transformed into a mini Eiffel Tower that reminds people of the most visited monument.

The small change has had a major impact on tourism in Paris. This allowed Paris to continue competing with other cities to stay in the top most visited cities in the world. As you can see, your branding doesn't always have to be big. Creativity can also do crazy things. Curious about the other cities? Discover here the top 20 most visited cities in the world.


Logo of Paris (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


5. Helsinki

Helsinki is the capital of Finland and the last one in this list of cities with a brilliant city branding campaign.

In 2017, Helsinki developed a new brand identity. It took 7 months for the campaign to start off. Sounds long, but more than 200 employees were involved in the project which made it challenging. By involving so many people, the city did get a strong picture of what their identity is and how they had to position Helsinki.

The city of Helsinki stands for the people whose passion is to solve world problems. "One Hel of an impact" is an attitude that describes the city and its people. As a result of the rebranding, Helsinki is now associated as a leader and many people look up to them. The way they have gotten people engaged is amazing.

Being progressive and involving people were key elements for the success of a remarkable city branding campaign. Working together on a positive future, tailored to your city, is the message.


Logo of Helsinki


The world's top 5 cities committed to city branding:

  1. New York
  2. Amsterdam
  3. Melbourne
  4. Paris
  5. Helsinki

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In 2015 Merchandise Essentials consisted out of two young guys with big dreams. Working out of their parents’ living room they started turning those dreams into goals.

The living room became a 600m2 office space with a showroom. The two man team turned into a workforce of more than 30 young and talented individuals who are now designing and producing merchandise for brands and businesses in 43 countries.


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