Hong Kong, This City Tells a Terrific Story
When I 1st visited Hong Kong the city’s slogan was ‘Asia’s World City’. It is still relevant, and I have learned much about the art of Hong Kong’s branding since then.
When Hong Kong’s former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa unveiled the city’s new branding as “Asia’s World City” at the Global Economic Forum in Y 2001, few doubted that Hong Kong deserved the title.
Geographically, Hong Kong is at the center of Asia, economically, it boasts 1 of the freest trading zones in the world, and thanks to its colonial legacy, it’s one of the few cities in the region that can claim full bi-lingual literacy. Riding on the wave of an economy that was still recovering from the Y 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the SAR’s (special administrative region) position as Asia’s World City made sense.
The Big Q: Hong Kong might have been able to lay claim to it in the early 2000’s, does the city still live up to this grand title?
The Big A: As with any type of marketing, the 1st step of a city branding campaign is to identify the target.
Patrick Mack is marketing executive director at Landor Associates, and was a senior brand consultant for the government’s Brand Hong Kong initiative in Y 1998, which primarily targeted MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) businesses.
“… in the eyes of many, Hong Kong was innovative, but not very obliging or kind,” notes Mr. Mack. “We wanted to communicate Hong Kong as a place where creativity and entrepreneurship converge. It is creative and dynamic but also very business-oriented”. After a 3-year-long consulting and strategizing process, Hong Kong was re-positioned as Asia’s World City, with an accompanying logo of a multi-hued Dragon.
It is common for city branding efforts to invoke ire among its occupants, many of whom will be taxpayers and will therefore want their opinion to be heard.
It’s also “an indication that people are passionate about their own city,” according to David Mineyama-Smithson, executive creative director of Landor Greater China.
While Asia’s World City aimed to convey Hong Kong’s geographical advantages and economic status in the region, there were, and are, plenty who criticized the slogan for not telling the whole truth about the city. After all, Hong Kong is notorious for having one of the biggest wealth gaps among the world’s developed nations.
Today, it is the most costly city in the world to live and boast the highest prices in real estate, both residential and commercial.
“We came up with various ideas at the time,” recalls Mr. Mack of the process. “I remember ‘Where the World Comes to do Business in Asia’ was one, but it was too business-oriented so we tossed that one out.
If you think about it, Asia’s World City could easily be used as a tourism slogan. When you emphasize a certain idea for one audience, you are automatically reducing it for another. It’s inevitable.”
As it turns out 20 years later Hong Kong is the city where the “World Comes to do Business in Asia”
Have a terrific week.