Warsaw city brand: Developing a brand positioning for Warsaw to increase its appeal as a city break destination for international students

Marcel Lange

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis set out to examine how Warsaw is perceived by international (non-Polish) students and how Warsaw should position its brand in order to raise its city break destination appeal in regards to the chosen target group. It was discovered that Warsaw‟s true identity, i.e. the combination of the City Council‟s vision for the city and how Warsaw is perceived by its inhabitants, is comprised of such terms like modern, friendly, dynamic, attractive, rapid economic development, rich culture, good quality of life, remembrance and pride of its history. However, the Official Tourist Website of Warsaw (warsawtour.pl) is communicating a very diffuse and unfocused brand positioning and totally neglecting the ‘emotional route’ to building a strong brand. It was further discovered that Warsaw‟s image is significantly undervalued by international students who have not been to Warsaw (as compared to those who have been there). Especially the personality dimensions of Excitement and Competence are undervalued, while both respondent groups (have been to Warsaw vs. have not been) perceive Warsaw as rather rugged and not sophisticated. The analysis further revealed that Warsaw‟s closest competitors are Prague and Budapest, and all three cities are perceived to be capital cities of countries which share a common communist history and which since have emerged as part of the „New Europe‟ – all three cities are further regarded as being inexpensive. Warsaw is distinct from its two competitors on the following associations: war, cold, Poland, grey, vodka, Chopin, dynamic/developing, big city, and modern. The analysis suggests that Warsaw should be branded as being a resilient city which defied all odds by rising from the ashes and today standing stronger than ever before. Given its tragic past and subsequent rise and transformation, Warsaw is today a city defined by contrasts. Its communicated personality should focus on being characterized as refusing to give up/refusing to accept defeat, courageously pursuing one’s inner drive, and having an optimistic and youthful outlook on the future. Warsaw would thus be positioned as the underestimated underdog which offers the benefits of being a new urban experience with good value-for-money and inspiring through its resilience. Warsaw should further strive to establish a reflection of its tourists as being adventurous pioneers who are not afraid of exploring unchartered terrain. Visitors would feel like resilient individuals who courageously pursue their own inner drive, but remain down-to-earth and responsible in doing so when visiting Warsaw.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages113