The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) is starting the new year by developing a new brand slogan to embrace the city’s exciting future. It has been seven years since Seoul launched its “I SEOUL U” branding campaign, which has become a prominent feature of the city’s marketing and communication materials.
As Seoul continues to be a tourism hot spot in Asia and grows into one of the top MICE cities in the world, the government is encouraging the public to get involved in creating a new branding slogan for the city.
A history of branding for the global era
The new brand slogan will become part of Seoul’s great brand history, which started back in 2002 with the city’s brand campaign “Hi Seoul”.
The brand slogan “Hi Seoul” captured the wave of excitement and energy following the 2002 World Cup and sought to capitalize on the city’s newfound attention from the international community. A symbolic manifestation of community spirit, the brand slogan brought the city into the new millennium and hinted at its emergence as a dynamic global city.
In 2006, the brand slogan “Hi Seoul” was supplemented with the sub-tagline “Soul of Asia”, playing on the sonic similarities between the word “soul” and the city’s name. This clever addition to the existing slogan helped promote Seoul’s cultural offerings and positioned the city as a leader in Asia.
Towards the end of the decade, the Seoul Metropolitan Government chose to renew its brand, launching the brand slogan “Infinitely yours, Seoul” in 2009.
This was followed up by the “City of Design” campaign, which was created after Seoul was designated a City of Design by UNESCO for its cultural heritage and creative potential.
In 2012, the city’s 35thth the municipal administration launched “SEOUL MY [ ]” branding campaign, which allowed tourists and residents alike to come up with their own specific definitions of what Seoul meant to them.
The government launches I SEOUL U
In 2014, the Seoul Metropolitan Government chose to conduct a citizen-driven process to find its new brand slogan. The process would stand in stark contrast to previous branding campaigns, which were largely developed by marketing agencies. Although the city had gathered ideas from the public in the past, this would be the first time the government would involve citizens in the branding process from start to finish. The result was “I SEOUL U,” a brand slogan that represented Seoul as a city of coexistence. Seoul is placed between the words “I” and “u”, highlighting the city’s role in connecting individuals. The slogan was launched in 2015.
In recent times, however, the slogan seems to have lost its relevance, and the government is seeking to replace the “I SEOUL U” brand with something more up-to-date. Critics have pointed to the slogan’s vagueness as its biggest pitfall, saying it no longer captures Seoul’s charm as a leading global city. Echoing these sentiments, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon has set the wheels in motion to create a new slogan. “To make Seoul a financial hub and a city for tourism, we need a slogan to convey that (it) is globally important,” the mayor said.
A new brand
Seoul is now seeking a new brand slogan to increase its competitiveness on the international stage and make it one of the world’s top five global cities. To come up with its new brand slogan, the city held a slogan contest in which both Koreans and foreign nationals participated. It also held a separate keyword competition for government employees in Seoul to ensure that the opinions of those within the organization would be taken into account.
More than 10,000 individuals, including 1,647 foreigners from 10 countries, and public employees participated in the competitions. Participants were asked to come up with key words to describe Seoul, with the best entries to be used to inspire the new brand slogan. Popular search terms included “dream”, “future”, “unlimited” and “harmony”.
The keywords were all collected and analyzed by experts to create the final brand slogan candidates that appeared in the government’s preference survey campaign. The preference survey is an unprecedented opportunity for the global public to decide Seoul’s next brand slogan, and more than 100,000 people domestically and internationally are expected to participate. Meanwhile, the final brand slogan will be used in global and national tourism campaigns and will appear in public institutions, transport and urban facilities.
Say your opinion
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is now inviting everyone to have their say on Seoul’s next branding slogan. It has selected four final candidates for people both at home and abroad to choose from in its brand slogan preference survey. The brand slogan candidates are as follows: “Seoul for you”, “Great Seoul”, “Seoul, my soul” and “Make it happen, Seoul”.
“Seoul for you” promotes inclusion and helps those in need. It also focuses on Seoul’s ability to offer everything “for you” through its educational, economic and cultural infrastructure.
“Amazing Seoul” highlights Seoul as the center of tradition, culture and art, with a wide range of attractions. It describes Seoul as a dynamic and exciting city.
“Seoul, My Soul” plays on the sounds and meanings of the words “Seoul” and “soul.” It depicts Seoul as a city of warmth, freedom and passion that can fill the soul.
“Make it happen, Seoul” focuses on one’s potential in Seoul. It describes the city as a place where anything is possible.
The campaign for preferences will run until January 31, and it needs your involvement. So get involved and make your voice heard. You may even see your favorite brand slogan on a billboard one day.
Visit the Seoul Metropolitan Government website to cast your vote now!