What do you think of when you think of Las Vegas? Ask that question almost anywhere in the world and I expect the answer will be remarkably consistent. Whether folks endorse the city’s sinful reputation or decry it, the Vegas brand is mighty—like Coca-Cola, like Nike, like … Los Angeles?
The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper recently hired Saffron consulting to calculate the most robust city brands across the planet, based on “assets” (climate, attractions, infrastructure, safety) and media buzz (both social and traditional). From Chittagong (No. 55) to Mumbai (No. 19) to Paris (No. 4), the study tapped into many of the elements that recommend or detract from a city, but it didn’t measure how accurately people perceive a given destination or, in fact, how they perceive it at all. Perhaps that’s why Las Vegas clocked in at ninth (thanks to our popular attractions, tourist-friendly climate and boatloads of press—and no thanks to our high crime rate), while our neighbor to the west took the top spot. Of course, LA boasts lovely beaches and the possibility of Jennifer Lawrence sightings, but can it compete with this slice of desert when it comes to that immediate eyebrow raise of recognition anywhere in the world? Sorry, Guardian, but I think not.