Written by Greg Clark and Andrew Stevens
While the reunification of the former British colony with the Chinese mainland, in 1997, was seen by many at the time to be as a precursor to the end of the city as an international investment hub, the Hong Kong brand has played an integral part in the city’s dynamic and continued prosperity. According ‘Location branding 2012’, published by PublicAffairsAsia and Ogilvy PR in September 2012, Hong Kong has the second strongest brand in the Asia Pacific region.
BrandHK was developed and launched in 2001, with a revitalisation of the brand, including the updating of its core values, attributes, brand platform and visual identity, taking place in 2010. The brand’s ‘Asia’s world city’ slogan is underpinned by its core values, developed through consultation with stakeholders and the public: free, enterprising, excellence, innovative and quality living. Hong Kong’s attributes are: cosmopolitan, secure, connected, diverse and dynamic.
The two main objectives of BrandHK are to position Hong Kong in the international arena and for identity building purposes. Rather than having multiple brands, BrandHK has been conceived as an umbrella brand and a brand platform through which the city’s brand can be communicated to all sectors. The tourism and business brands are seen merely as sub-brands.
Brand leadership and custodian
The rights to the use of BrandHK are owned by the Hong Kong Government, while it is supervised and managed by the Information Services Department, in particular the Brand Management Unit (BMU) of the External PR Division. There is also close cooperation between the BMU and Invest Hong Kong (IHK), Hong Kong Trade & Development Council (HKTDC), and the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB).
The BMU works with its partners to ensure that BrandHK is communicated consistently across the globe. While anyone, whether from the public and private sector, can apply to use the brand, they must follow a strict set of guidelines set out and monitored by the BMU.
Specific campaigns include the web platform, myhk2020.com, which was launched in 2008 as a means of allowing Hong Kong’s citizens to express their vision in text, photos, drawings and videos. In addition, the ‘Faces of Hong Kong’ campaign describes the lives of some of the city’s residents as a means of giving international visitors and businesses an insight into the ‘Asia’s world city.’
The next step
The next step for BrandHK is to broaden the appeal of the city in wider markets and to address the needs and desires of the people of Hong Kong more explicitly. While investors and businesses have been given much focus, it is widely believed that brand strategy should now more explicitly work towards attracting talent, students, and innovators, and garnering the support of locals by meeting their needs more fully. While the reconsolidation of BrandHK that took place in 2010 went someway to addressing these issues, such is the opportunity for Hong Kong in today’s global markets that it needs to solidify local support and engagement and to develop a story that is broader than economic opportunity and address liveability, sustainability, and cultural offers more emphatically.
Top image credit : Photobank gallery