E.g., 09/22/2014
E.g., 09/22/2014

The City Brand: Champion of Immigrant Integration or Empty Marketing Tool?

Reports
August 2014

The City Brand: Champion of Immigrant Integration or Empty Marketing Tool?

In recent years, cities on both sides of the Atlantic have invested in branding strategies and campaigns to attract tourism, investment, and new residents. This trend is closely tied to the increasing global demand for human capital and changes in travel and technology, which are challenging cities seeking growth to set themselves apart from similar localities in the region and around the world. City branding strategies, often embedded in a broader public discourse, must reflect the heterogeneity of residents while conveying the shared values, culture, and identity of the population. For some cities, diversity and openness themselves are main selling points. Other cities' branding strategies benefit from key economic conditions like a thriving industrial sector or links to centers of research and innovation.

This report explores the relationship between marketing and communications campaigns, immigration, and processes of immigrant integration. One question it seeks to answer: how can cities balance the twin goals of attracting skilled residents to fuel new growth while creating a "diversity-proof" identity, especially in a context of social inequality and high turnover? Within two categories of city discourse, one meant to attract new talent and the other meant to develop a local identity, municipal governments have various tactics to choose from to build a cohesive branding strategy directed at immigrant populations. 

Still, creating a truly representative brand is a difficult task for many cities. One challenge is how to link internal- and external-focused marketing campaigns, which target very different cohorts. Brands must encompass all residents, both immigrant and native born, and must reflect a diverse range of ethnic and cultural identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and reasons for living in the city.

This report was commissioned for the eleventh plenary meeting of MPI's Transatlantic Council on Migration, which focused on how cities and regions can more fully reap the benefits of immigration.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Exploring the Relationship between Immigration and Branding

A. Branding to Attract Talent

B. Branding to Promote Social Cohesion

III. The Challenge of Creating a Representative Brand

IV. Conclusions