San Francisco Lands among Top 10 City Brands in Latest Anholt-GfK Ranking

  • Overall, US holds three slots in the Top 10 – New York, Los Angeles place in Top 5
  • Paris remains the world’s leading city brand, with London and Sydney following close behind

NUREMBERG, Germany--()--In its first year of inclusion in the Anholt-GfK City Brands Index (CBI℠) study, San Francisco surpassed many of the world’s great cities to enter the ranking at #9 – knocking Washington, DC, out of the Top 10 in the process.

The biennial study also shows New York slipping one place, from #3 in 2015 (the year of the last CBI study) to #4. Los Angeles held on to the #5 ranking, while Washington DC fell from #10 to #13. Boston, which also had its CBI℠ debut this year, came in at #19.

As in 2015, people chose Paris as the #1 city brand among 50 measured cities – the fourth time Paris has taken the top spot since the study began 9 years ago. All of the top 10 cities that appeared in the 2015 CBI increased their overall scores, making this a year of strong competition.

2017 rank       City       2015 rank      

Score change
2017 vs. 2015

1       Paris       1       +0.51
2       London       2       +0.52
3       Sydney       4       +0.97
4       New York       3       +0.67
5       Los Angeles       5       +0.91
6       Rome       6       +0.65
7       Melbourne       9       +1.64
8       Amsterdam       8       +1.36
9       San Francisco       n/a       n/a
10       Berlin       7       +0.75

CBI℠ scores range from 1-100. Score changes: small: +/-0.26-0.50; medium: +/-0.51-1.00; large: > +/-1.00


City Brands Index research – conducted in September and October 2017 – evaluates the power and appeal of each city’s image, providing a holistic and detailed perspective based on six key dimensions:

  • Presence (the city’s international status and standing)
  • Place (its physical outdoors aspect and transport)
  • Prerequisites (basic requirements, such as affordable accommodations and the standard of public amenities)
  • People (friendliness, cultural diversity, how safe one feels)
  • Pulse (interesting things to do)
  • Potential (the economic and educational opportunities available).

San Francisco scored among the top 10 cities in four of the six metrics – #9 for People and #10 for Place, Prerequisites, and Pulse (#10).

CBI also demonstrates the precariousness of cities relying on their nations’ brands. A number of cities underperform their nation’s standing as established in last year’s Nation Brands Index℠. Berlin is a prime example, just managing to hold onto a spot within the top tier of cities. “This might be surprising, given that Germany as a country took 1st place in the 2017 Nation Brands Index rankings and boasted the most balanced image of all nations surveyed,” said Vadim Volos, Senior Vice President of Social and Strategic Research and head of CBI℠ at GfK. ”This shows that cities cannot rest on their nation’s brand; they must cultivate their own unique images, as well.“

Western cities tend to dominate the top half of cities; and in previous years, Western cities benefited noticeably more than Eastern cities in the global public’s estimations. The 2017 CBI shows a change in fortunes, with marked improvement for many that are not constrained by region or developmental stage. For example, Tokyo is one of only a handful of non-Western cities that resides within the top half of cities. After experiencing a score decline in 2013, Tokyo has rebuilt and grown its image in the two consecutive CBI studies. Tokyo enjoys the greatest score gain of any city (+1.79) in 2017’s CBI, tying for 11th position with Vancouver and surpassing Madrid, Barcelona, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Vienna.

Looking at CBI’s Middle Eastern and African regions, Dubai is the only city within this region measured that does not rest within the bottom tier of cities. Dubai falls narrowly outside the top half (27th), with its Presence (15th) and Place (16th) rankings anchoring and propelling its image. Though Dubai is the city within the region with the best reputation, Durban wins the award for most improved (+1.51), which allows it to surpass Cairo.

For more information on CBI 2017, please contact Vadim Volos at

About the study

The Anholt-GfK CBI℠ is run once every two years and measures the image of 50 cities with respect to Presence, Place, Prerequisites, People, Pulse, and Potential. For the 2017 study, 5,057 interviews were conducted across 10 countries (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, South Korea, UK, and USA), with at least 500 interviews per country. Adults aged 18 or over were interviewed online in each country. Using the most up-to-date online population parameters, the achieved sample in each country is weighted to reflect key demographic characteristics including age, gender, and education of the online population in that country. Fieldwork was conducted from 20 September to 3 October 2017.

For a full list of ranked cities and boilerplate, go to


David Stanton, +01-908-875-9844
VP, MarComms

Release Summary

In its first year in the Anholt-GfK City Brands Index study, San Francisco surpassed many of the world’s great cities to enter the Top 10.


David Stanton, +01-908-875-9844
VP, MarComms