Evolution of Brand Hong Kong
The idea of “branding” Hong Kong emerged in 1997 when much attention focused on Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland. It was the ideal time to shape a visionary unique identity for Hong Kong.
The Commission on Strategic Development, a group of senior public and private sector representatives advising the Chief Executive, recommended in 2000 that: “...Hong Kong needs to promote its unique position as one of the most cosmopolitan and vibrant cities in Asia to a wide range of international audiences. A successful external promotion programme can have a significant positive impact on Hong Kong’s ability to achieve a number of key economic, social and cultural objectives.”
In short, Hong Kong needed to identify its own unique brand. To prepare for the launch of the BrandHK programme, the HKSAR Government commissioned a team of international communications experts to research the city’s core values and attributes and develop a strategy to position the city.
A year of extensive research and consultation was carried out among opinion leaders in Hong Kong and overseas. The findings concluded that the positioning as “Asia’s world city” best reflected the city” best reflected the city’s unique features – Hong Kong as a natural, vital and multicultural gateway not only to and from China but also to the rest of Asia and beyond.
Research at that time showed that the top five core values associated with Hong Kong were: progressive, free, stable, opportunity and high quality. The most recognisable attributes were: innovative, cosmopolitan, enterprising, leader and connected.
The challenge of designing a unique visual identity reflecting Hong Kong’s values and attributes involved various international and Hong Kong-based design studios. Numerous designs were considered and those shortlisted were rigorously tested in Hong Kong and abroad.
The survey showed that the stylised dragon incorporating the letters H K and the Chinese characters for Hong Kong – 香港 – was well received and easily understood by both local and international groups. It represented Hong Kong’s continuing link with a historical and cultural icon. A combination of modernity and antiquity, the dragon also symbolises the meeting of East and West that makes Hong Kong so special.
BrandHK was launched in May 2001 before an international audience at the Fortune Global Forum in Hong Kong.
Since then, BrandHK has been the global communications platform that provides maximum synergy for a number of stakeholders who have an interest in promoting Hong Kong to different international audiences.
Hong Kong is a dynamic, modern city – multi-dimensional and always changing. Like the city it represents, BrandHK must also evolve with the times.
In 2008-09, a thorough review of BrandHK was undertaken. A key objective was to create a shared vision for Hong Kong among local people. So, besides research on international perceptions, much emphasis was also placed on public engagement in Hong Kong to gauge the community’s perceptions and aspirations.
Results from over a year of consultations and research showed that the brand’s core values and attributes were largely still valid, but the local community had stronger aspirations for quality living and sustainable development. Innovation and creativity also became more important for Hong Kong to maintain its competitiveness as a world city in Asia.
Analysis of views made a clear case for retaining the dragon icon and the brand positioning which had built up considerable “brand equity” over the years. Both were well recognised in connection with Hong Kong. In particular, most agreed that the city was even more “Asia’s world city” than it was at the start of the millennium.
As a result of the review, the brand’s core values and attributes were aligned to the new findings, while the visual identity was modified to include elements to make it appear more dynamic.
The revitalised BrandHK was launched in Hong Kong in March 2010 and introduced to international and mainland audiences at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.