by topaz
December 10th, 2014

t9

In determining what constituted an acceptable spread of soft power attributes, we focused on those areas that we believed, when combined, could contribute to a meaningful understanding of a city’s reputation and perceived influence. Our goal was to leverage the expertise of opinion-formers and our own marketeers to identify those soft power attributes that, individually, are particularly important to city brands and, collectively, paint a meaningful portrait of these cities’ reputation and influence. Our own expertise in brand communications was partly influential in deciding most relevant attributes, but so too were the views of independent opinion-leaders in each of the eight markets.

Based on our analysis of the views available to us, we examined 16 soft power attributes.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY
As part of our review of modernity, we wanted to know which cities were considered to set the trends in social media and technology, not necessarily the city in which it had been most readily adopted by the population.
TOURISM
Tourism is big business. Countries spend millions in acompetitive bid for tourism dollars. But what attracts tourists to urban centres is often very different to what attracts people to countries. We wanted to know which city had developed an identity that resonated strongly with tourists
NEWS MEDIA
Outside the Asia Pacific region, a small number of news media have staked their places as internationally recognised commentators on the issues of the day. Such is their relevance, they colour our view of their city and country of origin. We looked for similar influence in Asia Pacific cities, taking into account both reach and choice.
FINANCIAL HUB
Being recognised as a financial hub brings with it a range of city-brand reputation advantages, from talent attraction to perceived stability. Our interest therefore lay in determining which city had established itself as a centre for finance and leveraged that position to its own advantage.
ACADEMIC RESEARCH AND EDUCATION
Cities that attract those with the best ideas and position themselves as centres for academic research and education create distinct advantages. We wanted to know which cities were doing a better job at projecting those assets.
FOOD, CULINARY AND DINING EXPERIENCES
From the quality and diversity of restaurants to the impact that locally attributed flavours had on others, we were interested in the influence that food-related experiences had on the perception of a city.
RETAIL STORES AND NEIGHBOURHOOD
With so many megastores and shopping malls in cities across Asia Pacific, we turned our attention to which cities are perceived to apply an innovative approach to the development of retail stores and their place in communities.
ARTS AND LITERATURE
The contribution that cities make to the arts and literature is both historical and current. We wanted to see which ones were considered to leverage both to their advantage.
ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
As part of our assessment of the perceived modernity of cities, we looked at the role of contemporary architecture and design in influencing that perception.
MUSIC
Music is a universal language, but some cities are believed to have a more prevalent music scene than others. We wanted to know which music scene had the greatest impact, and why.
SPORT AND LEISURE
A number of cities in our report have hosted the OlympicGames in previous years. Others have invested in more locally focused sport and leisure infrastructure. And then there are cities whose natural environment caters for less structured sport and leisure activities. We explored infrastructure in this context and the perception generated as a result.
SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Much is said about commitment to the environment, but we wanted to know which cities were perceived to take an innovative approach to the development and delivery of a sustainability plan that captured the imagination of residents
and visitors and gave them a perception of progressive environmental stewardship.
GENDER TOLERANCE
In a global society that is increasingly more vocal about its expectation of tolerance across populations, we looked at the cities that have established a reputation for their
positive and active engagement with men, women andgender-related minority groups.
STANDARD OF LIVING
Cities that are geared towards providing a high standard of living for their citizens tend to perform well across multiple soft power attributes. We wanted to see which cities were perceived to connect their natural, cultural and infrastructure assets to the advantage of those who chose to live there.
POLITICAL CENTRE
A city that enjoys a reputation as a place for political decisionmaking can justifiably leverage that to its advantage. In that context, we consider the ability of a city to make its own policy decisions based on its specific needs as a relevant soft power. So we wanted to know who was doing that well, and how.
DESIRE TO IMITATE
When reviewed in totality, the positive soft power attributes and qualities of a city combine to create the perception of a place that others don’t just want to visit, but wish to imitate. Having sight of a perception of which cities others might want to replicate gave us a better understanding of who was
delivering an effective “soft power package”.


This is an excerpt from Engaging Cities: the Growing Relevance of Soft Power to City Reputations in Asia Pacific. For the full report, click here.

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