A Look at the Global Cities 500 of 2020

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What effect has the global COVID-19 had on the brand value of the world’s greatest cities? To discover this, an analytical report of the Global Top 500 Cities was compiled by Global City Lab and released on Dec. 28, 2020 in New York. The report declares New York to be the world’s most valuable city, with a brand value of US$2.03 trillion. Tokyo has surpassed London to rank second with a brand value of US$1.88 trillion. London’s brand value has dropped 8.16% this year, ranking third with a brand value of US$1.85 trillion. Moreover, Paris and Sydney also have brand values surpassing US$1 trillion. Hong Kong is still the only Chinese city in the top ten, dropping one place to the tenth position with a brand value of US$7.74 trillion.

A city’s brand represents the comprehensive strength of the city. It also affects the potential for future development of the city because it determines the flow of capital, information, goods, and talent to the city. Therefore, an evaluation of a city’s brand value will provide a clearer judgment and understanding of the city. Global City Lab is the world’s first professional organization engaged in city brand value evaluation. It calculates the brand value of major cities in various countries using the six dimensions of economic growth, culture, governance, environment, talent, and reputation. Global City Lab publishes its “Global Top 500 Cities” analytical report annually.


The threshold for the 2020 Global Top 500 Cities list is 18.51 billion dollars, which is a slight decline compared to 19.22 billion dollars in 2019. Among them, there are five cities in total with a brand value of over 1 trillion dollars, which is one fewer than the number in 2019. There are 19 cities whose brand values range between 500 billion and 1 trillion dollars and 161 cities whose brand values range between 100 and 500 billion dollars. More than 60% of the cities have brand values below 100 billion dollars. Overall, the average brand value of the top 500 cities in 2020 is US$141.22 billion, which is a decrease of 2.35% from the 2019 average of US$144.62 billion.

From a regional perspective, the 500 cities on the list are distributed across six continents, among which EuropeAsia, and North America account for more than 80%. Europe ranks first with 177 cities, one more than last year. Asia has four more cities this year, which raises its total to 155 cities. North America ranks third, with 93 cities on the list. COVID-19 has swept across the world this year. However, the control measures that have been undertaken by different regions are different. Overall, cities in North America and Europe have not yet recovered from the impact of the pandemic. From the perspective of brand value, the average brand value of European and North American cities fell by 6.69% and 5.57%, respectively, which is much higher than that of other continents and the global average of 4.70%.

City brands are also a symbol of national strength. The global top 500 cities are distributed across 125 countries, one more than last year. Among them, the United States ranks first with 65 cities, and China ranks second with 39 cities. The two countries accounted for 20% of the cities on the list. Japan ranks third with 27 cities. The United KingdomIndia, and Germany tied for fourth place this year, with 24 listed cities. Among the top ten countries, there are five European countries. Due to the impact of the pandemic, global economic development has almost stagnated or even receded. At the same time, the pandemic has also tested the governance capabilities of city governments. The city is no longer a separate economy, but a body of interest closely linked to the development and management of the surrounding areas and the world.

A striking feature of globalization is the constant concentration of capital and knowledge in brand-cohesive cities. Although the land of cities cannot be moved, the talent, capital, and enterprises that make up the vitality of cities change every day, which makes the competition among cities on a global scale increasingly fierce. City leaders have recognized the importance of building a competitive international brand for a city. Global City Lab is a specialized research, consulting and evaluation agency based in New York. As a new city think tank, the mission of Global City Lab is to provide comprehensive, expert networking services, especially industry-wide and cross-sector assistance, covering topics from urban planning, housing, environment, finance and branding to public policy, cities, enterprises, and non-profit organizations around the world.

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