Gyumri Branding: the Guide

Gyumri Branding: the Guide

shining with talent

To assemble all the layers of Gyumri within one concept, Deem Communications initiated and implemented the Gyumri Branding Project pro bono, with its funds as an investment in the development of Gyumri, and Armenia to some extent. The brand of Gyumri discovered its color, shape, and message that was presented to the public in Gyumri on December 9, 2017.  The project’s initiators are hopeful that Gyumri brand’s strategy implementation will help advance the city’s socio-cultural life, inner and outer tourism, and other key sectors.


The importance of city branding

Today city branding has become increasingly important as a tool to make cities attractive and marketable. Cities with distinct brand identities have a better chance to stand out and achieve their economic, social and cultural objectives, win bids for major events and attract large flows of tourists. High attractiveness and a strong appeal ensure the future of towns and cities of all sizes; secure the next generation of skilled workers that are so critical to companies; attract investors and businesses; create popularity among tourists, and, ultimately, increase the number of local residents.


What is city branding?

Place branding is a process of identifying the strongest assets of the place, building and telling a story consistently through marketing and communications to build, regain or maintain competitiveness. The goal of place branding is to build a reputation over time and contribute to the sustainable development of a place. Logos, slogans, and promotion campaigns are part of the process but aren’t the primary focus.  A logo is a visual symbol, designed to create an emotional association and bring recognition of the city among residents and visitors. Visual identity is only a part of the branding. Branding is about communicating the value through various tools and platforms: events, media, stories that will engage tourists and guests of the city. 

Both logo and the slogan convey the core values of the city to reflect the common perception of the city, based on a comprehensive research. Place marketing is about ensuring that the brand message and the story of a place or community are strategically and methodically delivered to the right audiences through the appropriate channels.

The visual identity including the slogan is created based on the analyses of the historical and cultural layers, as well as its tangible and intangible artifacts, stories and features of a place. It is important that the slogan is relevant so that locals can identify themselves with it, and visitors can experience it when they visit the city. 

G stands for Architecture; Y stands for Champions; U is about the Beer; M is where IT & Technology happens; R is for arts and crafts; I is for the spirit that encompasses the people, their humor, dialect and other features.

Why Gyumri

Gyumri is the second largest city of Armenia, famous for its cultural wealth and outstanding historical heritage, strategic location, incredibly witty people and a lot more. Gyumri is also about TALENT! The city and its surroundings have given birth to many of the greatest minds and champions of Armenia. Gyumri’s identity is rich and multi-layered. Branding is the process of bringing all these layers together and creating one comprehensive identity that would capture an emotion and make a lasting impact on the public perceptions and the future development of the city. Gyumri has a unique story, one that merits the attention of the world. With much history under its belt, from Kumayri, to Aleksandrapol, to Gyumri, the city now boasts the oldest beer brewery in Armenia, the only gallery of women artists in Armenia, a historic 360* fortress, splendid architectural gems with distinct Alexandrapol Belle Époque style made of black tufa as well as a recently evolving tech industry with emerging startups. Despite the grave repercussions of the 1988 earthquake felt even today, Gyumri is now a city full of promise.


The process

To deliver Gyumri’s unique story, at the beginning of 2017 Deem Communications initiated the Gyumri City Branding project as part of its CSR policy with the intention to make a contribution to the city and community development.

The agency advanced the Gyumri brand stage by stage in cooperation and consultation with the Gyumri Municipality, State Tourism Department, Kumayri Cultural Museum-Preserve and other NGOs and businesses in Gyumri. To create an inclusive process for the development of the branding of Gyumri, a Working Group comprised of eight community leaders and experts within their respective fields in Gyumri was set up to provide consulting and expert opinion during the progress of the branding procedure.

Primary and secondary research on the city’s historical and cultural heritage, economic and business environment, and other strategic documents make up the base of the brand development. More than 2000 people from Armenia and abroad were involved in the research process by answering online and face-to-face surveys, seminars, and discussions. Initially, trends were identified based on the outcome. After some testing with focus groups, the key components of Gyumri’s identity were defined. There was an overwhelming engagement about the brand development on a dedicated Facebook page that provided insights and allowed us to understand perceptions about Gyumri and set the trends of the new brand.

Many cities and regions used a multi-brand strategy at the time, i.e., there would be one sub-brand for tourists, one for businesses and/or talent, one for academia, sports, culture, and so forth. But the One-City – One-Brand concept is new, like in the case of Gyumri with an external communication focus. The brand’s concept connects with each letter of Gyumri’s name. The brand is defined with a simple concept that is delivered as – IN THE TRUE MEANING OF THE WORD. The word, well, is GYUMRI!

The logo demonstrates the many layers that have influenced the intricately woven city. The logo demonstrates two layers that can be replicated into three, four and more. Each of the directions can expand to a wide array of storytelling. The blocks also reflect building and construction, symbolizing the architecture and also the future. In doing so, we show that the city is constantly evolving. The G shape of the circular rotating image represents the G for Gyumri, but also a compass that shows the direction of the city on the map – North-West. Finally, the colors bear the following symbolism. Black symbolizes solidity and strength. As it rotates, the color opens to red, conveying the message about the witty and bold people of Gyumri while the orange reflects the energy and optimism of a sunny city aiming for bright future that the brand suggests.

The slogan reflects the talents and the potential of the city. “Shining with talent” became Gyumri's slogan because all characteristics attributed to or perceived about Gyumri have to do with its people, their talent, strength, perseverance, energy, straightforwardness, spirit, creativity, and most importantly unique humor.


The agency has developed a proposal for the brand’s implementation strategy for 2018-2019 to help advance the city’s socio-cultural life, inner and outer tourism, and other key fields. The strategy considers methodology applied to shrinking cities, zoning and redefining of public spaces, revitalization models for abandoned or semi-abandoned districts to include concepts of smart cities as well as community economic development formulas. For the strategy to work, the involvement of all stakeholders will be required.

As a first step, a city branding expert Hjörtur Smárason was invited in the framework of the SMEDA project to provide training on “City Branding as a Development Tool” for specialists of different fields (SME, media, public, civil, educational, and cultural institutions). The training sessions were organized in cooperation with Gyumri Technological Center with the support of “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) project co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and implemented by GIZ.  

These two years will be the testing and learning period for all the stakeholders - to monitor and to evaluate the impact the city branding can have. Gyumri, commonly perceived as conservative, can be the first city in Armenia to have and advance its own branding. There is time for everything. This is the time for Gyumri.