Strategies for branding the city of Gaborone
City branding is a 21st century phenomenon that has been enthusiastically embraced by cities in high income countries. In emerging markets or developing countries city branding has not received much enthusiasm for arguably varying reasons. Cities brand themselves as viable destinations for possible investment, good places to stay in, and good places to visit and work in. This study has shown that branded cities like London and Paris have been able to out-compete and out-stamina unbranded cities like Gaborone based on the fact that they have good media and marketing strategies, have better facilities and their identities are linked or associated with the cities' characteristics. Like in product branding, city branding reduces risk for the customer or the traveler and acts as a sign of quality. Branding a city is an endeavour to enhance brand equity and to strengthen the core values of the city which results in competitiveness. The main objective of this study was to investigate possible ways that could be used to brand the city of Gaborone into a competitive city brand. The study used content analysis as a research technique and the respondents of this study came from the private sector and the academia. They were chosen to enhance the trustworthiness and credibility of the study. Five main themes emerged from the study. The findings of this study show that branding the city of Gaborone could result in a unique selling proposition and a well-thought identity. The respondents indicated that Gaborone was unknown and could not compete against cities like London, Paris and nearby Cape Town in South Africa. The second theme emerging from the findings of this study was that branded cities compete better than unbranded cities due to their identities and characteristics. This study also found that Los Angeles was in 2014 ranked at the top because of its good weather and clean beaches and Cape Town did well as well due to its association with Table Mountain and Robben Island. It could be argued that a city must look at elements or characteristics that it can leverage on in order to become competitive. For example, the findings of this study showed that peace and security could be used to brand the city of Gaborone. However, it is important to note that peace and security on their own are not an attraction but just enablers for the branding of a city. The findings also showed that visitors, students and investors looked for personal safety before they could choose to visit a place. This study was able to show that Los Angeles was able to attract more visitors because it had reduced the rate of crime in the city. Finally, branding a city undoubtedly influences customers' perceptions about the city and can create a good reputation about the city. Gaborone as well if branded would possibly have its current level of brand equity enhanced. This explorative study has endeavoured to look for possible ways of branding Gaborone city. The findings of this study clearly demonstrated that indeed city branding is beneficial and makes the city competitive. Gaborone as the capital city of the Republic of Botswana should as well speed up endeavours to brand itself into a modern competitive city brand.