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5 Brand Promotion Lessons From The City Of Barcelona

As personal, social and professional lines blur for business and consumer purchasing behavior, brand positioning and promotion is becoming a core web marketing role. One of the world’s best examples of successful brand promotion is from the city of Barcelona. Here’s how to apply lessons from the world’s most cosmopolitan city to your own brand positioning and business marketing strategies.

Barcelona is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan, romantic cities and has a trophy case full of awards to show for it. Each year, it receives new accolades from around the globe. Here are five brand promotion lessons you can adapt to your business to become a world champion, learning from the Barcelona example.

# 1. Have a strong central hub where people can cross paths and interact

Over the past two centuries, Barcelona has been able to capitalize on its Mediterranean position, compact city environs and urban beauty to draw in visitors for business and leisure. From the 1880 World Expo to being a host city for the Olympics, Barcelona has always set out to be a global hub for international visitors, and to this day the city is host to the world’s second largest number of conferences and expos, with visitors arriving to attend industry events every week.

Having world class trade show facilities, and international and national transport hubs that offer efficient train, airport and port access, all allow visitors to easily enter, and move about the city.

Your business brand promotion lesson from Barcelona:

Develop a hub and spokes business marketing strategy that has multiple access points in which people can connect with your business. Facebook is your port of access, Twitter is your airport, and Google+ or LinkedIn are the conference venues. Use social media platforms position your business brand amongst the community as they engage with each other as well as interact with you. Focus on being welcoming and inviting wherever people connect with you.

Brand positioning with a hub and spokes model

Brand positioning with a hub and spokes model: Barcelona extends beyond the facebook and twitter accounts with a youtube channel and this slideshare profile

# 2. Provide a range of content formats

The Barcelona City Council have used the full gamut of available formats to showcase the city. There are slideshare presentations, youtube videos, pdf downloads, niche websites, social media hashtags, international showcase events and industry study tours that all work to promote the image and reputation of the Barcelona brand.

Your business brand promotion lesson from Barcelona:

Think outside the blogging box and beyond the landing page to produce high value business marketing content that includes videos, presentation slides, podcasts and app tools to communicate with your audience segments.

# 3. Share your data

The city of Barcelona partners with leading global business schools to produce regular indicator reports, that examine the ranking of the city against performance measures such as ease to establish business, access to telecommunications, office rental space occupancy rates, and liveability for workers.

They also proudly trumpet other data studies such as the annual Cushman and Wakefield European Cities Monitor in which Barcelona regularly ranks in the top 10 on any number of indicators. A study by the Barcelona business school ESADE last year even assessed the Barcelona brand positioning effectiveness, which the city was then able to use to extend its city promotional activities.

Your business brand promotion lesson from Barcelona:

Release some select analytics that demonstrate your effectiveness. Consider using brand positioning strategies that enable you to share your results as an infographic, and a data report and add them to all business proposals and presentation templates. Position your business to offer thought leadership insights into your sector, and share your knowledge and experience with your audiences and collaborators to build trust.

Barcelona’s brand promotion includes annual data surveys ranking the city against a range of lifestyle and business indicators

Barcelona's brand promotion

# 4. Tell stories that match individual market segments

Social media and content marketing author Lee Odden, who writes for the highly valued business marketing site TopRank, and has a soon-to-be-released book on how to optimize your online presence, urges businesses to not only understand their audiences but to tell stories that match each market segments’ expectations and motivations. Last year, Barcelona was trumpeted in a global branding study for doing exactly that:

  • tourists from Asian regions saw the city as an accessible, beach-side and cultured metropolis
  • US travellers perceived the city as a sexy nightowl
  • visitors from other European nations focus on the city’s brand as a gastronomic leaders and cultured display of urban architecture.

Your business brand promotion lesson from Barcelona:

Research your target markets and map stories for how each segment connects, engages and returns to your business when purchasing goods and services. Use your brand promotion strategies to tell the stories that accentuate and clarify what you can offer to each individual and specific business marketing target audience segment.

# 5. Go mobile

While 2011 was the pivotal turning point in consumer behavior in which our global shopping habits fundamentally changed towards a process of research, social networking and gamification, 2012 is set to be the year where we unattach ourselves from our computers as the principal means of connecting to the internet. Already, a third of all web surfing and online engagement with businesses is done on mobile devices.

Barcelona, as Mobile World Capital until 2018, has embraced a wireless future, by fostering a new wave of mobile apps startups, hosting key industry events (including the 60,000+ attending Mobile World Congress), and facilitating city-wide uptake of mobile solutions (Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona, for example, is the most mobile-enhanced sports stadium in the world).

Your business brand promotion lesson from Barcelona:

Make the time and allocate the resources needed to ensure your online content is mobile-friendly. Consider a brand positioning strategy that makes use of augmented reality, apps tools and QR codes to ensure your business marketing content is accessible and easy-to-read from any mobile device.

There is something about Barcelona that evokes excitement and energy around the globe, a key sign of the city’s success in its brand promotion globally. Think of brand positioning activities that have a Barcelona style and flair when you are outlining and implementing your business marketing strategy in 2012 and, like the city you can be sure the awards and accolades will follow.

Mark Boyd is a freelance writer specializing in how we interact and connect, whether it be with our cloud business apps, in retail, or as part of a smart city.

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  • Hi Mark, welcome to Bloggertone and thanks for presenting us with such a great first post! Barcelona is an incredible city & I love your point 4 about segmenting your story telling. This is something I have been try to do more of recently and I think I’m getting there slowly but surely plus I’m finding that it works well with blogging. 

  • It  also helps that their football team is pretty good 🙂

  • I had to make a mention of them in point 5: the Camp Nou stadium really is mobile-enhanced to let audiences interact during games and optimizes member seating and access to amenities.

  • Thanks Niall, it’s great to be contributing to the quality Bloggertone business community. I had been thinking about how important brand management is for going to be for businesses this year and wanted to offer a checklist for anyone wanting to better focus on their own business brand positioning.

  • Thanks Niall, it’s great to be contributing to the quality Bloggertone business community. I had been thinking about how important brand management is for going to be for businesses this year and wanted to offer a checklist for anyone wanting to better focus on their own business brand positioning.

  • Eduard Dirkzwager

    Thanks Marc, I can use these lessons (and the weather)  in Holland as well! Eduard

  • Branding is commonly considered as an art but that does not mean it’s beyond the arrive at of the common entrepreneur. Before people begin to use your company name instead for the general information of product, they have to know the name, and know what it means to them. 

  • Smallbiztrends

    Hi Bob, what a provocative article!  

    It reminds me of Zuckerberg wearing his hoodie all the time. You want to say to them “time to step up a notch or two and get serious about leadership.”- Anita

  • warrenrutherford

    Bob, great advice, especially advising owners and leaders to “cycle back” to evaluate. You bring in a motivational aspect with the impact on employees.  Clearly he was not leading effectively.  Thanks.

  • Hi Bob & welcome to TweakYouBiz! I love how you have simplified business leadership into 5 common sense steps – but as Greg says, very often people forget to return to step 1. Looking forward to reading and learning with you.

  • Great article, Bob!  In addition to the excellent points you’ve made above, I believe that the perks you refer to should be acknowledged as part of company strategy.  They send an important message to employees e.g. Zuckerberg wearing a hoodie as Anita mentioned.  Beer taps and ping pong tables create a party atmosphere, whereas yoga, tai chi and acupuncture generate clear thinking, better concentration and longevity.  
    It’s also crucial for leaders to understand their responsibility to – and impact on – employees.  I worked on two different TV productions with the same crew and the behaviour of some crew members varied hugely depending on the leadership of the director.Welcome to TweakYourBiz, Bob.  I look forward to learning from your posts and exchanging ideas with you.

  • Thanks Niall, CEBs are a valuable resource for Irish businesses and Eibhlin makes the benefits very clear.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey


    Welcome to TweakYourBiz!

    Your point about feedback being under-utilised is something that business owners/CEO’s need to take notice. It’s easy to think that your plan is spot on and working just fine because it feels that way. It takes humility, an important leadership trait, to be willing to listen carefully and adapt the plan, if needed. Regardless of how hip or innovative your organisation is, it takes wisdom and maturation to disbelieve one’s own hubris.

  • Elish Bul

    Thanks for that! You struck a Cord! Ihave been through that process with my blogging here – often writing about stuff that has captured my imagination as often as I have ( if not more so ) about strategic interests in my line of business. In fact, I blog because it is so irressitable when you DO find something that excites you, you just need to spread the word. I also have another phrase for it : Cool-hunting -that’s how I look at it – picking up on that creative global zeitgeist that exists at any one time.

  • Thanks Elish. I love ‘cool-hunting’! it’s what so many of us are doing out there, but I find it so much more satisfying to start a creative global zeitgeist. Ha! May happen one day! :0)

  • I think that’s exactly right. There’s always something – but it’s so easy to miss it with all the stuff that’s coming at us. Last night, I started one of those delicate little creative threads in my mind, around a subject that I am looking at right now. But instead of following through on it, I watched a film. Then it was gone. Hopefully, something else will get it going again soon. :0)

  • Thanks Sian, hopefully people will appreciate and like it and of course we’re happy to take suggestions as to what we should include.

  • Eric Haskell

    Exactly Niall! It is never easy to get a simple website. That’s where the professionals become relevant. Like in any other field, in designing also, it is best to leave the work to professionals to get the best results.

  • Aileen Hannan

    Tom, I couldn’t agree more about the power of video. I was recently onto indiegogo, complaining about the order of their videos for the Solar Roadways campaign. The second video, ‘Solar Freakin Roadways’ communicates the message best, yet people may never scroll down.

    I am also impressed that you have already learned that people invest in people. Best of luck with all your projects.

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