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Toronto ‘brand’ cracks top 10 among global cities

Condo development has transformed the Toronto skyline.

Toronto may be the city others across Canada love to hate, but the rest of the world appears to feel differently.

Canada's largest city ranked as the 8th best in the world by brand image, up from 13th place two years earlier and surpassing such international favourites as Vienna and Melbourne.

Toronto was also labelled the second friendliest city in the world among a list of the top 50, and the fourth safest.

The biannual Anholt-GfK City Brands Index measures the “power and appeal” of each city’s brand image.

Mark Keida, senior research director on the City Brands project, says Toronto scored particularly well among Americans and people from India, followed by those from the United Kingdom and France.

The index is meant to represent the full picture of a city, from how it looks and feels to visitors, to its education, culture and economic opportunities, and it’s global contribution.

“It’s hard to get the right mix, and Toronto managed to get into the Top 10,” says Keida.

What held Toronto back was its climate and a lack of international buzz, compared to cities such as New York and Paris, according to the results.

“Toronto is seen as a great place to move and live and make friends and get a job - as more of a long-term destination,” says Keida.

While other Canadians like to poke fun at Toronto, it's hard to deny the attraction for international visitors and investors given its diverse people, cultures and industries.

The higher ranking should give Torontonians a much-needed boost after all the recent turmoil at city hall. Let's not forget its long-suffering Toronto Maple Leaf fans, still waiting for their team to win the Stanley Cup.

London beat out Paris for the top spot in brand ranking, a year after hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics. London also ranked first as a place where visitor felt they fit in with the culture.

Sydney was considered both the friendliest and the safest city among the top 50.

Rio de Janeiro – the next city to host the World Cup and the Summer Olympics – was considered the third friendliest, but ranked 47th for feeling safe and 29th for friendliness.

“It should be looking hard at other aspects critical for the success of these world event,” said Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor on national identity and reputation.

He said Paris fell from top spot overall because of its lower rankings as a place where people feel safe and fit in. Another notable drop was Tokyo, which fell to 17th spot in 2013 from 10th in 2011. Amsterdam moved up to 11th from 17th.

The index measures the image of 50 cities based on questions related to perceptions of their: Presence, Place, Pre-requisite, People, Pulse and Potential. The 2013 index is based on 5,144 interviews with people 18 and older in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Top 10

1. London (2 in 2011)

2. Sydney (3)

3. Paris (1)

4. New York (4)

5. Rome (6)

6. Washington, DC (7)

7. Los Angeles (5)

8. Toronto (13)

9. Vienna (9)

10. Melbourne (8)