A Global Hub in Progress: Riyadh’s Influence in City Brand Barometer 2023
Posted on 2023 Nov,02

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New York, London and Tokyo top the rank of 100 global cities analysed in City Brand Barometer 2023, Business edition, a proprietary bi-annual report that interviews 2,000 businesspeople worldwide to assess the world's most relevant place brands for commerce.

Published by independent global brand consultancy Saffron since 2008, City Brand Barometer 2023 also features a new data-driven study on mobility from astara Intelligence, the advisory branch of astara, one of the world's leading mobility companies.

The study assesses global cities by examining the maturity of their mobility sector, their vision and innovation, and the cleanliness, sustainability and accessibility of their mobility as key factors influencing a city's brand strength. Notably, the report extends its focus to the Middle East, spotlighting the significant strides of Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, in alignment with the nation's transformative Vision 2030.

Jacob Benbunan, co-founder and CEO of Saffron, said: ‘Brand is the promise of an experience, delivered; it was revealing to analyse each city through these three critical lenses. We saw that memorability, an increasingly vital concept for the success of all brands, is achieved through a powerful promise and an emotional experience. Thanks to our new partnership with astara, we are beginning to investigate the link between memorability, mobility and the effectiveness of a city’s business brand.’

The most memorable business city of all, New York, is also the Barometer’s highest scoring for Promise, with 40% higher top-of-mind and consideration scores compared to the rest of the Top 20 cities. While London places second overall in this year’s Barometer, Tokyo’s business brand leaps from 10th in 2021 to 3rd due to strengthened infrastructure (Delivery), active branding initiatives, and strong recall (Promise). In the Barometer’s 2022 Tourism edition, Tokyo reached #1 for the first time, showcasing the city’s overarching global presence.

Moreover, the City Brand Barometer report, meticulously assessed by Saffron and Astara, scrutinizes Riyadh's pivotal role in the nation's global positioning. The report examines Riyadh's promising prospects, encompassing its distinctive cultural offerings, economic aspirations, and the concerted effort to place people and culture at the heart of its evolution. This inclusion marks a turning point, extending the assessment to embrace and spotlight the transformative developments in the Middle Eastern region, acknowledging Riyadh's significant role in KSA's trajectory.

Sebastián Canadell, Chief of astara Intelligence, said: ‘We are extremely proud to have partnered with Saffron on the City Brand Barometer 2023. We understand that mobility plays a crucial role in shaping how cities are perceived and remembered, an aspect that is often overlooked. This study underscores the significance of sustainable mobility, innovation and accessible mobility for all as decisive factors in strengthening a city's brand. Our commitment at astara Intelligence is to continue collaborating to push forward mobility in the smart cities of the future and contribute to economic and business growth.’

The four breakout lists highlighted in City Brand Barometer 2023 include the Top 20, and the 15 rising Leaders in Promise, Experience and Delivery.

The report features case studies with bespoke memorability and mobility analysis from Saffron and astara on 10 city business brands: Auckland, Cape Town, Lagos, Madrid, Mexico City, New York, Osaka, Riyadh, São Paulo and Singapore.


The results:


Top 20

CBB’s Top 20 have the strongest business brands in the world, combining Promise, Experience and Delivery. They excel in representing their brand genuinely and are recognised for it. They set new benchmarks for other places to follow and are widely considered as ideal locations for business, growth and strong innovation.

  1. New York City
  2. London
  3. Tokyo
  4. Paris
  5. Dubai
  6. Singapore
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Hong Kong
  9. San Francisco
  10. Barcelona
  11. Sydney
  12. Washington D.C.
  13. Amsterdam
  14. Chicago
  15. Berlin
  16. Toronto
  17. Boston
  18. Vancouver
  19. Munich
  20. Madrid


Leaders in Promise

These 15 emerging Leaders in Promise resonate with citizens, tourists and investors worldwide through their seamless combination of commitment and engagement.

  1. Shanghai
  2. Beijing
  3. São Paulo
  4. Milan
  5. Abu Dhabi
  6. Melbourne
  7. Seoul
  8. Hamburg
  9. Brussels
  10. Frankfurt
  11. Cape Town
  12. Lisbon
  13. Johannesburg
  14. Mumbai
  15. Mexico City


Leaders in Experience

The 15 Leaders in Experience combine ease of doing business with a high quality of life, all supported by a skilled workforce, a strong economy and efficient governance & policies. These cities leverage the unique strengths of their environments to create lasting and influential brands.

  1. Copenhagen
  2. Canberra
  3. Auckland
  4. Zurich
  5. Stockholm
  6. Reykjavik
  7. Hamburg
  8. Frankfurt
  9. Melbourne
  10. Oslo
  11. Austin
  12. Helsinki
  13. Manchester
  14. Fukuoka
  15. Nagoya


Leaders in Delivery

Successful Delivery means turning commitments into results. These 15 Leaders in Delivery seamlessly integrate infrastructure, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation to create a fertile ground for business growth.

  1. Copenhagen
  2. Stockholm
  3. Istanbul
  4. Fukuoka
  5. Osaka
  6. Zurich
  7. Rome
  8. Nagoya
  9. Vienna
  10. Helsinki
  11. Oslo
  12. Reykjavik
  13. Lisbon
  14. Manchester
  15. Dublin