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Building the Rio Brand with Future Expectations

Professor Patricia Reis analyzes elements associated with the Rio brand and claims that certain elements associated with the brand are not yet reality in the city

Rio de Janeiro is a city well known for its beauty, its people and its welcoming spirit. Despite many negative factors such as safety, health and the environment, Rio is still an attractive destination for tourists who visit the city year round.

To facilitate the sustainable growth of the city, the Rio brand was created with the city’s image, identity and reputation in mind. With the aim of encouraging the international promotion of Rio in the context of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, various elements have been associated with the identity of the brand in order to generate a positive image of the city.

After studying this initiative, which intensified in the city beginning in 2009, Patricia Cerqueira Reis, director of HOD Planning and Brand Communication Management and a research professor at ESPM (College of Publicity and Marketing), presented in 2016 at ECA-USP (University of Sao Paulo) a dissertation focused on the Rio brand, pointing to the elements associated with its identity. Beginning with the municipal administration in the period from 2009 to 2016, Reis analyzed the elements that correspond to the present reality and add value to the brand, and those which represent expectations in the future.

The research began when she was asked to work on the communications plan for the Rio 2016 Games by the Organizing Committee. With the arrival of other major sporting events in the city, it seemed a good time for the promotion of the city on a national and international scale. Reis focused her research on the elements of Rio’s brand identity that needed to be defined and reinforced by communication, in order to create a positive image and avoid the stereotypical reputation of the city.

The most significant discovery she made was that the, “elements associated with the brands of cities should already be present in its history or in its everyday life.” Yet, in this case, the identity of the Rio brand was created to reflect “the expectations they had of the future transformations that would occur in the city,” such as improvements in sustainability and safety. According to her, the management of the city’s brand has in fact weakened its value, because it does not match the reality that actually exists on the ground. With the completion of major events, and with the spotlight being directed onto the city, the accumulation of negative value to the Rio brand becomes even greater.

Therefore, the moment the country is going through is not a contributing factor to the image that the Rio brand is presenting to the world. The Olympics, which always brings the hope of greater opportunities to the host city, including increased brand promotion, may not have come at the best time. But she points out that the problems arising from the management of the Rio brand will have minimal influence on the organization of the Games, because the two spheres are disassociated. Reis believes that, “the organization of the Games is the responsibility of the Organizing Committee and they have been doing an excellent job. The management of the city for the Games is the responsibility Olympic Company, which in this case, has had to deal with a number of issues at a time of real crisis in the three institutions of government.”