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Cape Town Named Africa’s Best City Brand In A New Ranking; Johannesburg Close Behind

Cape Town is ranked as Africa’s best city brand and 60th globally, followed by Johannesburg in 72nd spot, according to the inaugural Brand Finance City Index released today. Presented by brand evaluation consultancy Brand Finance, the rankings are 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. The Index has named London as the best city brand in the world, followed by New York and Paris.

Cape Town’s position as a continental leader can be attributed to its status as South Africa’s most visited city, with a high reputation and consideration as a destination to visit. The city’s natural beauty, with its stunning coastline, mountains, and diverse landscapes, make it one of the world’s most attractive tourist destinations. The city offers a rich cultural heritage, ranking 33rd for being diverse and multicultural, warm hospitality, and adventurous attractions. It also ranks 15th for affordability and 18th for nice weather, further enhancing its popularity amongst tourists from around the world.

To arrive at a comprehensive assessment of the city brands in the ranking, alongside measuringfamiliarity, 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.

While Cape Town continues to face socioeconomic challenges, it ranks positively for the attribute of future growth potential, in 18th position globally. This is largely attributed to its growing tourism industry, which presents opportunities for economic growth and job creation. Further, Cape Town’s strategic location as a major port and transportation hub in South Africa offers a gateway to trade and investment opportunities, especially with emerging markets in Africa.

Below Cape Town and Egypt’s Cairo (67th), Johannesburg is ranked as the 72nd best city brand in the world and 3rd in Africa in the Brand Finance City Index. Experiencing higher crime rates compared to other areas in South Africa, Johannesburg is held back by a relatively low rankingfor perceptions of crime levels (76th). On the other hand, like Cape Town, Johannesburg also ranks highly for future growth potential, at 25th globally. Although not as popular as Cape Town among tourists, Johannesburg is widely recognised as the economic powerhouse of South Africa and a significant financial and business hub in Africa. The city has a robust economy, a large and skilled workforce, and many universities.

Jeremy Sampson, Managing Director of Brand Finance Africa, commented,

“With its exceptional beauty and extraordinary diversity, South Africa is truly a remarkable nation that enjoys a lively reputation for tourism. South African cities must continue to focus on promoting their vibrant cultural scenes, sustainable urban development, and investment in infrastructure. Further, by prioritising safety, inclusivity, and social equality, South African cities can create welcoming environments that encourage tourism and promote more positive global perceptions in the coming years.”


London crowned as the world’s best city brand

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.”

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, andhaving a strong identity and character, but falling behind on being friendly where it ranks 25th – perhaps in line with stereotypes.

View the full Brand Finance City Index 2023 here